Betting sites offer software blocks for compulsive gamblers

Health Watch

A betting board lists the odds on college basketball games in the sports betting facility at the Tropicana casino in Atlantic City, N.J. on March 8, 2019, the last year the March Madness tournament was held. The American Gaming Association predicts 47 million people will bet on this year’s tournament, about the same as two years ago. But 8% fewer plan to fill out brackets pools because many offices remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Some sports betting companies are offering tools that allow compulsive gamblers to block themselves from most online sites.

Unibet last week announced it was making software from U.K.-based Gamban available to customers in the U.S. The tools allow customers to in effect ban themselves from gambling sites across multiple devices.

On Wednesday, FanDuel did so, as well. The software blocks thousands of licensed and unlicensed gambling sites and is constantly updated to add new ones as they appear.

“Educating customers about the importance of gambling responsibly and within limits is a business imperative and ethically the right thing to do,” said Carolyn Renzin, chief risk and compliance officer with FanDuel Group. “Offering Gamban’s software to those customers signaling they need help adds another layer of protection for our customers, our program, and to the industry.”

“This is a massive moment for the industry and one we’ve been pushing to achieve since the launch of Gamban,” added Jack Symons, Gamban’s co-founder. “As the largest real-money gaming provider in the United States, FanDuel Group is making a statement of intent and throwing down the gauntlet to operators across the industry to offer self-exclusion support for their vulnerable customers.”

Most licensed sports betting and online casino companies already offer ways for compulsive gamblers to either pause or halt their behavior, including “cool-down” periods in which customers can have their accounts suspended for a length of time.

And states including New Jersey offer state-administered self-exclusion lists where gamblers can prohibit themselves from gambling for differing periods, or permanently. While they are on the list, casinos and sports books cannot accept bets from them or send them marketing materials enticing them to gamble.

Unibet’s parent company, Kindred Group said last week that its provision of blocking software to its customers is “an important step for the industry.”

Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, praised the companies’ moves.

“We strongly support the ability of gamblers to self-exclude through both the operator and on their own personal devices,” he said. “Self-exclusion is one part of what should be a comprehensive network of problem gambling prevention, education, treatment, enforcement, research and recovery services in every state.”

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