The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) announced that the state’s casino self-exclusion program has reached 20,000 voluntary requests.
Elizabeth Lanza, director of Pennsylvania’s Office of Compulsive and Problem Gambling (OCPG) department, said the 20,000 mark is evidence the program is working.
“The Casino Self-Exclusion Program, along with the agency’s 3 other self-exclusion programs, are effective and proven tools that allow for individuals to regain control over their lives, and to learn about other recovery resources,” Lanza said this week in a news release about the milestone.
The program launched in 2006 and has since expanded to self-exclusion programs for Pennsylvania online casinos, too.
How the Pennsylvania self-exclusion program works
In Pennsylvania, gamblers have the option of voluntarily banning themselves from casinos for one year, five years or for their lifetime. If they enter a casino while they are on the self-exclusion list, they can face trespassing charges and lose all winnings from their visit. The exclusion extends to any on-site sportsbooks, too.
- Casinos have to ban anyone on a self-exclusion list, and cannot offer that person:
- Gaming and check-cashing privileges
- Membership in the casino’s loyalty club
- Comped meals and drinks
The program is nearly identical to self-exclusion initiatives in other states. For example, Massachusetts has a voluntary self-exclusion program where people can ban themselves from casinos.
Breaking down the PA self-exclusion numbers
According to the PGCB, 21% percent (4,335) of the 20,000 people who’ve chosen self-exclusion have opted for the lifetime ban. Other interesting data includes:
- Males outnumber females nearly two to one, accounting for 12,811 of the 20,000 participants;
- The ages of self-excluded individuals ranges from 21 to 102 years old;
- More than a thousand people who removed their names from the self-exclusion list rejoined the program;
- Of those who rejoined the program, around 30% chose the lifetime ban when they re-enrolled.
Additionally, nearly 6,000 people have requested self-exclusion for online gaming and truck-stop video gaming terminals (VGTs). The program began in 2019, and since then, iGaming (online casinos) make up the majority of the self-exclusion requests:
- iGaming: 3,778
- VGTs: 1,467
- Fantasy sports: 797
PA self-exclusion numbers should increase
As gambling and sports betting continue to grow, the rate of self-exclusion in Pennsylvania should increase. Across the nation, calls to problem gambling hotlines have shot up over the past few years as the gaming industry has grown. Roughly 1% of U.S. adults have severe gambling problems, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling. Additionally, four to six million people have mild to moderate gambling problems.
It’s likely those problem gambling statistics will increase as more states legalize iGaming, commercial casinos and sports betting. With that in mind, Lanza reminded Pennsylvania bettors that help is just a phone call or text away.
“The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board encourages anyone who thinks they may have a gambling problem to seek treatment and consider taking advantage of the voluntary Self-Exclusion Programs,” she said.
Pennsylvanians struggling with a gambling addiction can go to the OCPG’s self-exclusion website to learn about what self-exclusion is and get help for their addiction. They can also find help at 1800gamblerchat.org, or call 1-800-GAMBLER.