GambleAware took the opportunity to ask operators their views for improving self- exclusion strategy, using shared experience to develop the most effective and mutually-beneficial policies.
When trade body Bacta confirmed its inaugural Social Responsibility Exchange, it recognised that its success would hinge on operator engagement. And that was in evidence at the self-exclusion section of the programme where Bacta members took centre stage in the sensitive self-exclusion session chaired by GambleAware deputy chief executive Iain Corby.
Splitting the attending representatives into discussion groups, Corby tasked operators with providing their concerns, and solutions, to various issues around self-exclusion, including what is the right approach,and when is most effective.
“Obviously, self-exclusion comes in right at the end of things, when things have gone too far,” said Corby. “From your viewpoint as operators it’s better to prevent them, self-exclusion is the backstop.”
Responding to the question of when self-exclusion is most appropriate, the suggestion from the floor was that “it needs to come at the end of us having intervened. Having had conversations, tried different measures such as setting limits, whether that be time or spend in the arcade.”
The suggestion that communications training and education was a priority for preparing staff was met with general agreement, as operators from the discussion group noted “it’s not a big idea,but it is the most important.”
As the relationship between customer and operator is a key part of address- ing problem gambling concerns, the point was also raised that – when it comes to how effective self-exclusion is-there is a great deal to be learnt from the customer.
“Asking ex-self-excluding customers their feedback on the process would be a useful step,” observed one AGC operator.“That can then be fed into the review.”
Although all operators present agreed that self- exclusion was an important part of the policy to protect consumers,many agreed that when it came to broaching the subject,the practical reality of discussing self-exclusion could be problematic.
“There can be many different situations,” observed the group discussing how to raise the subject, “but we must approach it in a friendly, polite manner.”
“I’m sure all AGCs try to have a friendly family atmosphere, and so it would be best to approach them to have a chat, or a coffee, make sure the customers know what self-exclusion is, and that they want it for the right reasons.”
That idea was also sup- ported by the group exploring the emotional and negative response to self- exclusion, which suggested that making customers more comfortable with approaching staff was an important part of developing a supportive relationship.
“You could put up signage explaining that we have trained staff on the premises to deal with problems related to gambling, in the strictest confidence,” suggested the group.
“We have to make customers aware that we are there for them if they have any problems, and make it easier for them to come to us.”