High street betting shops in Glasgow City Centre are today launching a new self-exclusion scheme for anyone who has developed a problem with their gambling. For the first time anywhere in Scotland, a customer will be able to ‘exclude’ themselves from any of the 36 participating betting shops, regardless of which company runs the shop.
This three month pilot scheme will play a key part in developing a UK-wide scheme that is set to launch in 2016.
Up until now, a customer has only been able to exclude from one betting shop or operator at a time, and has needed to fill in forms for each different shop. Under the ground-breaking scheme, when a customer wishes to exclude themselves, they will be able to call a confidential helpline where an advisor will agree which shops it makes sense to self-exclude from – for example rather than being excluded from all 36 participating shops, they may only need to include the shops near their home or place of work. The helpline advisor will also be able to give customers information about how to get help, including counselling services.
Whilst the pilot will only be available to customers in the city centre, customers will be able to self-exclude from shops outside the city centre with participating bookmakers. For example, someone who works in the City centre, but lives in Rutherglen and socialises in Shawlands can exclude from all three locations with just one phone call.
Malcolm George, Chief Executive of the Association of British Bookmakers, said: “This is a very important step towards helping problem gamblers in Glasgow stay in control, and get the help they need. High street betting operators want all customers to enjoy their leisure time and gamble responsibly. We also want to help those who may be getting into difficulties, and this scheme is a big step forward to achieving that. In addition, it will directly shape the UK-wide scheme that will begin next year.
We are pleased to be working together with the City Council on this project, as they are as committed as us to promoting responsible gambling.”
Glasgow’s City Treasurer and Chairman of a cross-party Sounding Board on gambling, Cllr Paul Rooney said: “We simply don’t know enough about how problem gambling effects individuals, families and communities – either here in Glasgow or anywhere else in the UK. However, this project breaks new ground in terms of the industry sharing information, both between operators and, crucially, with their regulator.
“Only time will tell if it will offer more effective support for Glaswegians who are struggling with their gambling here and now – but I also want to ensure the city uses this opportunity to gain a better understanding of who finds their gambling become a problem; how they try and cope with that, and to what extent they are able to bring it under control.
“All of these things will, over time, tell us more about how we go about safeguarding people from harm and supporting the families and communities around them.”