Effectiveness of At-Risk Gamblers' Temporary Self-Exclusion from Internet Gambling Sites

J Gambl Stud. 2019 Jun;35(2):601-615. doi: 10.1007/s10899-018-9782-y.


To prevent risks associated with online gambling, many jurisdictions propose self-exclusion strategies as a part of a responsible gambling policy. To protect online gamblers, French law provides for a 7-day temporary non-reducible and voluntary self-exclusion measure that applies only to select websites. The objective of our study was to evaluate the effectiveness of this self-exclusion measure for at-risk online gamblers. It was an experimental randomized controlled trial targeted at risk prevention. The main outcomes were the money wagered and time spent gambling assessed 15 days (short-term) and 2 months (medium-term) after the implementation of the self-exclusion measure. The effectiveness of self-exclusion was also compared according to the gambling type (pure chance games, such as lottery or scratch tickets, skill and chance bank games such as sports betting or horserace betting, and skill and chance games such as poker). Sixty participants were randomly assigned to the experimental condition (n = 30; with the implementation of a self-exclusion measure) or control condition (n = 30). The randomization was stratified according to their favorite game [pure chance games (n = 20), skill and chance bank games (n = 20), and skill and chance social games (n = 20)]. The results revealed that self-exclusion had no short-term impact-but did have a medium-term impact-on gambling habits. After 2 months, the gambling-related cognitions ("illusion of control" and "the perceived inability to stop gambling") and the subscale "desire" of the Gambling Craving Scale (GACS) have decreased. Participants' opinions about the impact and effectiveness of self-exclusion were discussed. To conclude, it appeared that temporary self-exclusion is an interesting tool to protect online gamblers from excessive practices, but several modifications have to be made to improve its effectiveness and use.

Keywords: Addiction; Gambling disorder; Internet; Responsible gambling; Self-exclusion.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Behavior, Addictive / prevention & control*
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology
  • Female
  • Gambling / prevention & control*
  • Gambling / psychology
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Probability
  • Young Adult