Self-exclusion from gambling can be a confusing topic, and a casino self-ban is not easily undone. For those reasons, it’s important to know exactly what you are signing up for.
Here, we lay out the facts and clear up some common misconceptions to help you avoid pitfalls that others have faced, with the help of our friends at the PGCB. Let’s start by explaining what self-exclusion is and then get into exactly what it involves for individuals who sign up.
According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board:
“Self-exclusion allows a person to request to be excluded from legalized gaming activities within a casino and offsite venues, online, at VGT establishments or on fantasy contests. Individuals who enroll in self-exclusion are prohibited from collecting any winnings, recovering any losses or accepting complimentary gifts or services or any other thing of value from a licensee or operator.”
Self-exclusion includes four lists and they are as follows:
- Interactive Gambling
- Video Gaming Terminals
- Fantasy Contests
You can choose which specific gambling activities you would like to exclude from, or opt to exclude from all. Signing up for one does not mean you are on another. However, online casinos interlink with land-based properties and oftentimes, operators will extend online self-exclusions to their retail casinos and vice versa.
FAQs about gambling self exclusion in PA
How does self-exclusion work?
For casino, interactive gambling and VGT self-exclusion, a person can choose to self-exclude for one year, five years or lifetime. Once self-excluded, a person cannot attend a casino, participate in any iGaming (including sports betting) or play VGTs.
For fantasy contests, a person can choose to self-exclude for any amount of years he/she decides.
An exclusion from one specific form of gambling can extend to other forms, at the gaming operator’s discretion.
How can you sign up for self exclusion in Pennsylvania?
For casino self-exclusion, a person may sign up by completing a request to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board in person. Call (717)346-8300 to schedule an appointment at the PGCB Harrisburg Office, one of the PGCB’s regional offices or a PGCB office in a licensed facility.
For the other three lists, a person can sign up for self-exclusion online on the PGCB website.
What happens if a person violates a self ban and gambles at the casino?
If a person violates self-exclusion, winnings get confiscated and you cannot recover losses. You may also receive a citation for criminal trespass.
How do I get off of self-exclusion in PA?
This is where things can get tricky. If a person signs up for self-exclusion from any of the four programs and then decides to change their mind, it is nearly impossible to get your name off the list before the designated time period passes. That said, removal from the list before the ban period expires is technically possible. Here’s how:
A person would have to pitch their case to the PGCB and provide convincing evidence for lifting the ban. Those who sign up for a lifetime self-ban must wait at least 10 years before they can apply for removal.
According to Elizabeth Lanza, PGCB’s Director of the Office of Compulsive and Problem Gambling:
“There is no mechanism in place to allow for a removal from a ban that is still current. For this reason, if an individual changes their mind during their self-exclusion period, they must petition the Board for relief from the Board’s regulations. The Board makes the final decision on whether or not to remove the individual’s name from the self-exclusion list(s).
“It’s important to note that individuals who have selected a lifetime ban can petition the Board for removal after being on a list for at least 10 years, and they are required to submit proof of receiving a problem gambling assessment (and any subsequently recommended treatment) with their petition.”
Do I automatically drop off the self-exclusion list after my ban period expires?
Another misconception around PA gaming self-exclusion is that when the period of the ban elapses, your name automatically drops off the excluded persons list. While this is the case for most of the self-exclusion lists, it is not true for land-based casino exclusions.
Lanza explained to PlayPennsylvania what happens once the timeline of a person’s self-exclusion expires:
“Currently, for our Casino Self-Exclusion Program, individuals need to actively request to be removed through the PGCB’s online removal website. The only time a removal request is denied is if the ban period selected by the individual during enrollment has not yet ended.
“For our iGaming, VGT Establishment, and Fantasy Contest Self-Exclusion Programs, individuals are automatically removed at the end of the selected ban period without action by the individual who is self-excluded.”
To apply for removal from casino self-exclusion after the designated ban period is over, use this form.
Is self-exclusion confidential?
Yes. Being on the self-exclusion list is strictly confidential. The PGCB will not share your participation on the self-exclusion list with any other state agency.
If I exclude from an online casino, can I still visit the in-person casino?
Land-based casino operators may opt to extend online casino (iGaming) self-bans to their land-based properties. If a person places themselves on casino self-exclusion, it is up to the licensee if they want to ban the person from its associated iGaming site(s).
If I self-exclude from casinos in PA, can I gamble in other states?
Once again, it is up to the particular licensee whether or not to extend a Pennsylvania self-exclusion to their properties in other states. It is the individual’s responsibility to learn these policies by contacting the operators directly by phone or email.
If I self-ban from a casino, can I still go to casino restaurants or bet on sports?
It is up to the licensee whether to extend the ban to other amenities such as bars and restaurants on property, but most restrict self-banned individuals from entering the property at all.
Currently, there is no separate ban list for sports betting. That means casino and iGaming bans generally apply to the operator’s associated sports betting apps or retail sportsbook. That means the casino can confiscate winnings from sports betting if you place the bet with an operator where you have an active self-ban.
Can you place a family member on the self-exclusion list?
No, you can’t self-exclude for someone else. The list is entirely voluntary and the person seeking exclusion must be the one to sign up.
Know the responsible gambling resources available to you
It should be clear by now, but you should always clarify with the particular operator before signing up for self-exclusion to find out exactly what activities you will be excluding yourself from (and for how long).
Additionally, it’s important that you know all of the resources available so you can make the best possible decision for your particular situation.
Resources for help with problem gambling in Pennsylvania:
- Help with recognizing potential problem gambling
- Set self-imposed limits (available at legal iGaming sites in PA)
- Get help with gambling addiction
- More problem gambling resources for PA residents
- PGCB self-exclusion explained
- Online guide to self-exclusion in PA
- Online guide to removal from self-exclusion in PA
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