Self-exclusion lists are among the tools the commonwealth of Virginia is employing to encourage individuals to practice responsible gambling.
Virginia’s Voluntary Exclusion Program allows concerned individuals to place themselves on a self-exclusion list. Then, Virginia gambling licensees use that list to help prevent those individuals from indulging in harmful gambling behavior.
Individuals who have a confirmed gambling addiction or are worried about exhibiting the symptoms can sign for a period of two or five years, or for a lifetime.
How many Virginians are on the self-exclusion list?
After signing up, the Virginia Lottery will distribute your information privately to all licensees and sports betting permit holders. Putting yourself on the list prohibits you from gambling with any of them. You will also be removed from any mailing lists or solicitations.
John Hagerty, a spokesperson for the Virginia Lottery, told PlayVirginia that the numbers keep changing. However, as of mid-March:
- 97 residents had self-excluded for two years
- 127 residents had self-excluded for five years
- 1 resident signed up for lifetime self-exclusion
The self-exclusion process can be done online for either the two or five-year exclusion period. However, it must be done in-person with a specialist if you opt for a lifetime period.
A spouse or loved one can not sign you up for the list.
Your name can be removed from the list after the period of time requested and with a formal appeal. If you’re caught gambling during your self-exclusion period, your winnings will be subject to forfeiture and can be donated to the Commonwealth’s Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Fund.
March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month. As a result, stakeholders throughout the nation are highlighting various programs and educational efforts to curb the issue.
How does the VA program compare to other states?
As more states increase betting options for residents, they are also implementing self-exclusion systems to help those who struggle with addiction.
Up north, the Maryland Voluntary Exclusion Program is also completely voluntary and free of charge. Forms must be filled out in person, and the term can be a lifetime or two-year period. It applies only to entering and playing at any Maryland casino or the Maryland Lottery.
Connecticut shares information with all gaming licensees. You are also banned from all land-based properties, as well as online gambling and online sportsbooks. The period can range from one year to five, to a lifetime.
You can enroll in the Massachusetts exclusion program by phone or online. By signing up, you’re excluded from the gaming floor or all Massachusetts casinos. It’s either a one-year or lifetime choice.
Nevada does not sponsor a state-wide exclusion program, leaving it up to the individual gaming licensees. Caesars/William Hill has a company-wide self-exclusion program with terms of one year, five years or a lifetime.
Spotting signs of problem gambling
Problem gambling can manifest itself in many ways. But it is just another form of addiction with treatment options. The definition of a responsible gambler is someone who stays within their means and never takes drastic steps to maintain their habit.
Nevadacouncil.org put out a list of warning signs if your gambling has grown irresponsible. Among them are:
- Gambling to escape worry or trouble
- Gambling to get money to solve financial problems
- Unable to stop playing whether winning or losing
- Gambling down to your last dollar
- Losing time from work due to gambling
- Borrowing money to pay gambling debts
- Eschewing family responsibilities because of gambling
- Being dishonest about the time and money spent gambling
Resources for those struggling with gambling
The VA Lottery has convenient ways for gamblers to connect with counselors who want to help.
If you are worried about possible gambling addiction, you can call 1-888-532-3500 to speak with someone about your concerns.
Gamblers Anonymous remains one of the leading resources for helping individuals with a gambling addiction. GA meetings are held throughout the country. You can find a meeting by searching the Gamblers Anonymous website.