Effectiveness of At-Risk Gamblers’ Temporary Self-Exclusion from Internet Gambling Sites
To prevent risks associated with online gambling, many jurisdictions propose self-exclusion strategies as a part of a responsible gambling policy. To protect online gamblers, French law provides for a 7-day temporary non-reducible and voluntary self-exclusion measure that applies only to select websites. The objective of our study was to evaluate the effectiveness of this self-exclusion measure for at-risk online gamblers. It was an experimental randomized controlled trial targeted at risk prevention. The main outcomes were the money wagered and time spent gambling assessed 15 days (short-term) and 2 months (medium-term) after the implementation of the self-exclusion measure. The effectiveness of self-exclusion was also compared according to the gambling type (pure chance games, such as lottery or scratch tickets, skill and chance bank games such as sports betting or horserace betting, and skill and chance games such as poker). Sixty participants were randomly assigned to the experimental condition (n = 30; with the implementation of a self-exclusion measure) or control condition (n = 30). The randomization was stratified according to their favorite game [pure chance games (n = 20), skill and chance bank games (n = 20), and skill and chance social games (n = 20)]. The results revealed that self-exclusion had no short-term impact—but did have a medium-term impact—on gambling habits. After 2 months, the gambling-related cognitions (“illusion of control” and “the perceived inability to stop gambling”) and the subscale “desire” of the Gambling Craving Scale (GACS) have decreased. Participants’ opinions about the impact and effectiveness of self-exclusion were discussed. To conclude, it appeared that temporary self-exclusion is an interesting tool to protect online gamblers from excessive practices, but several modifications have to be made to improve its effectiveness and use.
KeywordsResponsible gambling Internet Self-exclusion Addiction Gambling disorder
This study was supported by both a Grant from the French Ministry of Health (PHRC 2012 12-020-0177) and a Grant from the National Institute of Prevention and Health Education (INPES 2012 053/12-DAS). This research was conducted at the initiative of and coordinated by the Addictology and Psychiatry Department of the University Hospital of Nantes, who is the sponsor of this study.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
JC, MGB, GCB and LR declare that the University Hospital of Nantes and The Paris Nanterre University have received funding from gambling industry (FDJ and PMU) in the form of a sponsorship—this funding has never had any influence on the present work. Scientific independence towards gambling industry operators is warranted.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
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