Glasgow to launch new self-exclusion scheme

By Tom Lewis
A new scheme aimed at tackling problem gambling is due to launch in Glasgow city centre.

For the first time people in Scotland will be able to call a confidential helpline to exclude themselves from all 36 of the city’s high street betting shops, regardless of the operator.

The scheme, launched as a three-month pilot by the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) and Glasgow City councillors, will also allow individuals to select individual shops they would like to refuse them service.

Previously anyone in the Scottish city wishing to exclude themselves had to do so by contacting one shop at a time and filling out a form for each different operator.

The helpline will also provide advice on how to deal with and receive counselling for a gambling problem.

Malcolm George, chief executive of the ABB, 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."

Glasgow City councillor Paul Rooney was more cautious, stating: "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."

The scheme has been decried as a PR exercise by a gambling campaign group, citing issues with enforcing the exclusions.

Adrian Parkinson, director of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, told The National: “There is nothing new about self-exclusion. It has been operating in betting shops since the mid 2000s.

“The bookmakers are trying to improve a system that has consistently been shown to be ineffective in helping pathological problem gamblers to exclude from betting shops.”

Instances of self-exclusion have been on the rise across Britain according to statistics published last month by the Gambling Commission.

New self-exclusions recorded by operators rose from 22,541 for the period April 2012 to March 2013 to 28,844 between October 2013 and September 2014.

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