With the upcoming launch of online poker and online casino games in Pennsylvania and the recent soft launch of Sugarhouse Casino’s online sportsbook, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has implemented a new self-exclusion tool for gamblers who need to pump the brakes on their play.

If gamblers feel the need to restrict themselves, they can go online or head to one of the PGCB offices in the state and ban themselves from internet gambling for one year, five years, or permanently. There is no ability for someone, once they have self-excluded, to cut the time period short. This means, of course, that anyone who chooses the lifetime ban can never gamble online in Pennsylvania again.

Said the PGCB:

All Commonwealth on-line gaming sites must refuse wagers and deny gaming privileges to all persons on the iGaming Self-Exclusion list, as well as refuse any player club membership, complimentary goods and services, and other similar privileges; and, ensure that persons on the iGaming Self-Exclusion list do not receive solicitations, targeted mailings, telemarketing promotions, player club materials or other promotional materials relating to iGaming activities.

Makes sense. One problem some sites have had on occasion in other states (online or brick-and-mortar) is that players on the self-exclusion list have continued to receive marketing e-mails and mailers. The casinos will need to be sure their systems correctly flag self-banned customers and get them off of mailing lists.

The PGCB elaborated on that, saying, “All Commonwealth on-line gaming sites must…ensure that persons on the iGaming Self-Exclusion list do not receive solicitations, targeted mailings, telemarketing promotions, player club materials or other promotional materials relating to iGaming activities.”

Flexibility Included

The self-exclusion system is not just about banning oneself from all the sites for a long time. Customers have ability to pick and choose which sites or gambling products they want to keep away from and instead of just banning themselves completely, they can instead put spending caps on their accounts.

Players who self-exclude will of course be able to withdraw their funds (after all, the point of self-exclusion is to prevent oneself from losing money gambling). If anyone on the list still finds their way onto a site from which they restricted themselves and wins money, though, they don’t get to keep it. The winnings will go to the PGCB for use in responsible gambling programs. The player could also be arrested. If someone on the self-exclusion list still plays and loses money, they don’t get that money back.

Pennsylvania also has a self-exclusion program for its brick-and-mortar casinos and the structure is essentially the same, but this online program is separate. Gamblers could conceivably self-exclude from the online poker rooms and still be free to visit the state’s casinos.

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