Pennsylvania gaming regulators went against the recommendation of their own experts recently, and overturned a “lifetime” voluntary casino self-exclusion that was requested by a patron in June 2013. See what poker players have to say about the decision.

The September 2018 PA Gaming Control Board Meeting was full of informative events.

– Online poker players who have been anxiously awaiting news of when real money games will launch in Pennsylvania learned that 2018 is unlikely because of procedural requirements. (47:07)

– Pennsylvania residents learned that more vigilance is needed to stop land-based customers from consuming so much alcohol on the gaming floor that they have to be wheeled back to their room by EVS (Environmental Services) staff. (1:24:25)

– And a Swatara Township administrator who claims his political opponents in Dauphin County are engaging in “retribution” tactics by withholding local gaming funds learned that the PGCB has no jurisdiction in the matter — after his police department was denied an $85,000 request for a canine unit, and instead received $13,000 for “dog food.” (1:58:05)

However, the most notable event for gambling industry responsible gaming proponents was the unanimous Board approval to remove a player from the PGCB “Lifetime” Voluntary Self-Exclusion List after hearing arguments from the Office of Hearings and Appeals which formally recommended that the customer remain banned from brick & mortar casinos in the Keystone State. (1:06:43)

Pennsylvania Gaming Regulators – Lifetime Self-Exclusion Reversal

The following is a summary of the PGCB’s decision to overturn a voluntary, self-requested, “lifetime” ban from casinos located within the Commonwealth. The patron in question is referred to as [x].

  • In June 2013, [x] completed the process of placing herself on the “lifetime” PGCB Voluntary Self-Exclusion List while accompanied by her daughter at the Hollywood Casino in Grantville (a property of Penn National Gaming).
  • Earlier this year, [x] initiated the process of petitioning the Board to remove herself from the list, citing adverse withdrawal effects from the prescription medication Abilify that caused her to develop problem gambling habits in 2013. This process is typically reserved for “1 Year” and “5 Year” self-exclusions.
  • After that process was completed by staff designated by Pennsylvania gaming regulators and PA gaming law, the Office of Hearings & Appeals submitted a formal recommendation to the Board that [x] remain on the list — because she was deemed to be of sound mind when she filled out the paperwork in 2013, and the restriction period she requested was “lifetime.”

The three-minute exchange between PGCB official Steve Cook and the PA Gaming Control Board can be viewed in its entirety in the video below. (1:06:43-1:10:00)

We have also covered PA responsible gaming topics in separate articles here at Part Time Poker.

Pennsylvania Casino Self-Exclusion Regulatory Guide (Jun 17, 2018)
Pennsylvania Compulsive & Problem Gambling Regulatory Guide (Jun 9, 2018)

Pennsylvania Gaming Regulators Reverse Lifetime Self-Exclusion (Feedback)

This author shared news of the reversal with readers of the TwoPlusTwo News, Views & Gossip forum on September 22nd, 2018 — with the goal of obtaining poker player feedback in reaction to the decision.

I put the over/under on when she gambles the rest of her money away at 7 months. I believe people should be treated as adults. Offer her the ability to self-exclude herself if she wants. But if she doesn’t want to do that any longer, she should have the right remove the exclusion.venice10

Obviously ban should be upheld in this instance. What’s the point of a self exclusion if you can just say ‘Nah, I was addicted to gambling but I’m not now so let me gamble.'” dogarse

I don’t really think the timeframe for a self-exclusion is that important, just make the degens jump through hoops if they want to reinstate themselves as non-problem gamblers.” NMcNasty

I think there shouldn’t be such a thing as ‘life time’ but instead maybe 5 years at a time or something… Problem solved.” bbvsla

For several reasons it does not appear practical for a casino to ever remove players from a lifetime ban list… unless they were placed on the list incorrectly.” monikrazy

[It] can’t be that hard to understand what ‘life’ means when you sign it. If she wants to degen that hard, it’s only like 5 hours to [Atlantic City].” gamboneee

Lifetime means till you die. Move to AC degenerate.” robert_utk

Ban should be kept in place, for no other reason [than] the downside of an incorrect decision is much lower by keeping ban in place. An interesting alternative would have been, keeping it in place and asking her to reapply to get ban removed in another 2 years. This ruling seems too easy and sets bad precedent…Lurshy

Overall, the feedback within the TwoPlusTwo thread was mixed.

While some posters believe a “lifetime” self-requested casino ban should remain in place forever (as selected by self-excluded individuals in the first place), others opine that problem gamblers should generally be ‘treated as adults,’ and allowed to patronize casinos after a certain time period has elapsed.

As pointed out in the thread, Pennsylvania self-excluded customers can simply travel outside the Commonwealth to neighboring New Jersey and gamble there instead, or vice-versa.

News of Decision Reaches Potential Online Problem Gambler

On September 12th, 2018, a TwoPlusTwo member entered the thread in question to post his opinion on why lifetime casino self-exclusions shouldn’t be enforced forever. That post can be found here.

The thread being linked to in that post is of a separate complaint that was brought to the public boards on September 15th — when the online gambling customer communicated that his PokerStars account had been “frozen” by the company’s responsible gaming personnel. According to what was published, the back-and-forth between the poker player and The Stars Group RG staff has been ongoing since October 2015.

Upon viewing the new thread and subsequent replies from forum posters, this author personally reached out to The Stars Group Head of Responsible Gaming Jeanne David to seek assistance on how best to proceed.

Are there any Responsible Gaming numbers or sites that forum contributors can provide potential problem gamblers in cases where jurisdiction is unknown? We can look up this info when posters divulge region & want help, but otherwise general TSG-approved links might be all we can do.(direct communication from David Huber to Jeanne David — Sep 27, 2018)

The reply to that communication, in which TSG provided telephone numbers and website links to assist those with problem gambling issues regardless of their geographical region, was posted here.

Responsible Gaming Guidelines/Outreach Vary per Jurisdiction

One of the main drawbacks to Responsible Gaming policies is that they tend to vary greatly depending on the licensing authority and geographical region — which in turn places both problem gambling customers and those who wish to assist in an undesirable position.

For example, some brick & mortar establishments — particularly those managed by tribal gaming interests in the United States — tend to allow gamblers to enter their facilities and place real money wagers beginning at age 18, while commercial casinos typically restrict gambling to age 21 and over. In the United Kingdom, the Advertising Standards Authority (a self-regulatory organization) restricts marketing activities that could target young adults between the ages of 18 and 24. (CODE: 16.3.14)

These distinct differences in how RG policies are enforced can make it nearly impossible for even qualified professionals to correctly diagnose and/or treat all individuals who may suffer from problem gambling tendencies and may desire help.

This lack of cohesion has prompted some licensed iGaming media representatives in the U.S. to call for federal rules to address problem gambling.

However, there is widespread debate in America over whether the responsibility of issuing such policy mandates should be left up to individual states or require federal government intervention.

Conclusion: Pennsylvania Gaming Regulators Overturn Lifetime Ban

The decision by Pennsylvania gaming regulators to reverse a self-imposed lifetime casino ban, and overrule the personnel formally designated to provide expert follow-up recommendations could be seen as troubling for those who are attempting to comply with responsible gaming rules on multiple fronts.

It is recommended that gaming regulators across the globe take notice of this decision, and prepare arguments for why “lifetime” casino voluntary self-exclusions should or shouldn’t be reversed.

Read More News Related to Pennsylvania Gaming Regulators

PA Gaming Control Board Meeting Timestamps (September 2018) (Sep 13, 2018)
PA Gaming Control Board Meeting Timestamps (July 2018) (Jul 21, 2018)
Pennsylvania Category 4 Casino FAQs (Mini Casinos) (Mar 12, 2018)

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