Philadelphia Casinos Offer Self Exclusion Programs for Addicted Gamblers

While some would call gambling a vice, others would argue that if done in moderation and within one’s means, a trip to the casino can be a fun and exhilarating experience.

But like other things in life, engaging in an activity to an excessive degree can be quite harmful to the individual, along with the people around him. That’s why Pennsylvania casinos offer a self-exclusion program which problem gamblers can join to ensure that they are allowed on the casino floor.

When someone enrolls in the program, they are prohibited from entering the casino, cashing out any winnings, recovering losses or accepting comps from the facility. Players choose up front, for how long they would like to remain excluded, choosing between one year, five years or permanent ban. If a player does not explicitly file to remove himself from the program before his chosen period is up, he will be automatically reenrolled.

In 2014, 7,778 gamblers took advantage of the self-exclusion program. When registering for the service, photograph is taken of the individual been distributed amongst the state’s casinos. From here on, it becomes the casino’s responsibility to make sure they keep enrolled players off the premises.

Burden  is with the casinos

But with so many people passing through any given casino, spotting a prohibited gambler can be like finding a needle in a haystack. That’s why security focuses on traceable electronic transactions, including credit card or debit card charges in gamblers’ names.

When they are noticed, security will contact the Pennsylvania Gambling Control Board  (PGCB). According to PGCB spokesman Rich McGarvey, it’s not uncommon for a self-excluded player to hit a jackpot, only have the winnings voided due to their prohibited status.

Instead of winning big bucks, the gambler will be apprehended by security and will face fines, fees and other consequences in front of a judge.

How to sign up

To enroll, individuals need to visit the PCGB’s field office in Scranton, or the office and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, and bring the following information:

  • Name, with aliases and nicknames
  • Date of birth
  • Current address of residence
  • Telephone number
  • Social Security number
  • Physical description of the individual
  • Government issued photo ID

Officials stress that the self exclusion program is not meant to be a treatment option for addicted gamblers. But as a deterrent, the program can be helpful by discouraging players from trying to set foot inside the casino, as they wouldn’t be able to cash out winnings in the event that they were not caught gambling.

In 2013, Parx Casino caused an uproar when it had erroneously sent self-excluded players promotional offers. As punishment, the PGCB hit the casino’s parent company, Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, with a $7,500 fine.