The Voluntary Self-Exclusion Program (VSE) is a statewide initiative that empowers individuals to voluntarily exclude themselves from casino gambling, sports wagering, or both for a predetermined duration. The program operates as a pact between the individual, the MGC, and all licensed Gaming Operators, who collectively agree to help the individual refrain from gambling and/or sports wagering for the chosen term.
The VSE program is a lifeline for those grappling with gambling issues for various reasons. It underscores the MGC’s commitment to promoting responsible gaming and safeguarding the well-being of individuals who may struggle with gambling addiction.
The Three Dimensions of Self-Exclusion
Participants in the VSE program can choose from three distinct self-exclusion options:
- Gaming Self-Exclusion: Participants are barred from entering the gaming area of any Massachusetts casino and from gambling on casino games within the designated area.
- Sports Wagering Self-Exclusion: Participants are prohibited from entering a retail sports wagering operator’s sports wagering area and placing a sports wager with any Massachusetts licensed sports wagering operator, including retail and sports wagering platforms.
- Dual Self-Exclusion: Participants are concurrently barred from the areas and types of gambling/wagering detailed above.
It’s important to note that operators have the discretion to extend gaming or sports wagering exclusion to all forms of gambling they offer. Individuals can consult a GameSense Advisor (GSA) or visit the MGC website for more information.
The Enrollment Process
Individuals can enroll in the Massachusetts Voluntary Self-Exclusion Program through several channels:
- By Phone: By calling the 24-hour Safer Gaming Education Line at 1-800-426-1234.
- Online Chat: Via the GameSense website, available 24 hours a day.
- In-Person: Individuals can schedule an appointment to enroll in the program by contacting the MGC at 617.533.9737 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also visit any GameSense Info Center during casino operating hours without an appointment.
During enrollment, individuals will connect with a professional trained to handle requests for voluntary self-exclusion. These professionals understand the tough decision that individuals are making and provide support to help them make an informed choice.
The Rise in Self-Exclusion Participation
Massachusetts has seen a significant rise in self-exclusion enrollments since the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The MGC launched its Sports Wagering Self-Exclusion program in early 2023, in line with the commencement of the state’s legal sports betting market.
The sports betting self-exclusion initiative complements the MGC’s Gaming Self-Exclusion program, enabling problem gamblers and others to prohibit access to the state’s three commercial casinos. The MGC also allows individuals to exclude themselves from casinos and sportsbooks through its Dual Self-Exclusion enrollment.
The latest data from the MGC reveals that over 1,400 people in Massachusetts have enrolled in a self-exclusion program. This figure, the highest participation rate for the gaming omission offering in the state, clearly indicates the program’s effectiveness.
The Challenges of Sports Betting Exclusion
Despite the robust participation in its self-exclusion programs, Massachusetts gaming regulators face challenges in encouraging problem sports bettors to enroll. They have found that sports bettors often consider themselves more informed and skilled than casino players, making it more challenging to convince them to self-exclude.
Chelsea Turner, the Chief Operations Officer for the Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health, explained: “In order for us to talk to them, we know that we need to meet them where they’re at. So, by us becoming experts on sports betting, it helps to establish a nice rapport with them. You need to speak their language and meet them where they’re at.”
A Game-Changer for Responsible Gaming
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s Voluntary Self-Exclusion Program marks a significant step towards promoting responsible gaming and safeguarding individuals from the potential harms of gambling. The recent surge in participation underscores the program’s effectiveness and the state’s commitment to ensuring a safe and enjoyable gaming environment for all.
The challenges posed by sports betting self-exclusion are being proactively addressed, further reinforcing the state’s dedication to responsible gaming. With its comprehensive approach and commitment to continuous improvement, Massachusetts is proving to be a beacon of responsible gaming practices.