A startled UK regulator has vowed to act after a BBC reporter found he was still able to gamble in betting venues – despite his photo being circulated to shopkeepers for his own exclusion.
The ambitious and unsophisticated Multi-Operator Self Exclusion Scheme (or MOSES) – which was implemented by the Senet Group with UKGC backing in 2016 – requires betting shop staff to physically check all customers that walk in against a database of names and photos flagged for self-exclusion.
Yet when a BBC Five Live reporter tested the scheme, he found himself still able to gamble in 16 different venues before being noticed by staff.
The UK Gambling Commission responded with “concern” and immediately announced a fresh inquiry.
“It really is getting to the stage where there is nowhere to hide for businesses who don’t take this seriously,” said Sarah Harrison.
The ABB, meanwhile, acknowledged the system was “not without its flaws” – but argued that the test was “artificial,” given the inherently personable means of excluding someone.
“By its very nature those who self-exclude are normally known to the staff in
the shops they exclude from,” said the trade association. Whereseas the reporter “was not a problem gambler” and so “was not previously known to shop staff.”
For gaming consultant Steve Donoughue, the furore around MOSES is at once unsurprising – and emblematic of both the ill-conceived measures and knee-jerk appall from the Gambling Commission, that has become routine.
“Ultimately the blame for this must lie with the Gambling Commission. It was they who allowed the inherently flawed system that Moses is to go forward,” said Donoughue. “It is they who backtracked from imposing a nationwide self exclusion scheme and allowed a local scheme based on mugshots being faxed to nominated shops even though such systems have proven flawed for decades.”
“It is not [operators’] fault that unlike the rest of Europe there is no ID card scheme that allows for simple checking on a register upon entrance.”
Notwithstanding the lack of evidence that self-exclusion actually reduces problem gambling, he added: “Some evidence even shows that those who self exclude become more problematic.”