AAMS self-exclusion: Italian scheme for players

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For Italians, gambling has been their favorite leisure activity since the Roman era. It has been so popular, that not even the Holy Church saves itself from bookmakers putting odds on Pope elections for the last 600 years.

But, despite the Italian love for the flutter, gambling is an unusually restricted activity for locals on live venues but free to access through online platforms. Since 2006 it has increased so much that problem gambling has become a health issue with 3% of the population (estimated 1,5 M) being part of the unfortunate group of severe problem gamblers.

This has led to the AAMS, the Italian gaming agency to create its self-exclusion scheme to prevent negative figures from increasing in Europe’s most profitable market.

Problem Gambling in Italy

Gambling has fairly liberal legislation in Italy. Despite having only four live casinos where only non-residents are allowed to enter; sports betting, lotteries, and virtual betting machines are spread along the mainland and insular territories. The lack of proper controls (alongside corruption) allowed problem gambling to become a public concern.  The addition of online gambling in 2006, only made the numbers take bigger heights.

In 2018 Italy’s health ministry the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS) determined in a survey that 18 million and 400 thousand people (36.4% of the adult population) have gambled at least once in the previous 12 months. From this group, 8% or 1.5 million of them are categorized as problem gamblers, where 600,000 are considered severe problem gamblers and another 1.4 million being labelled as “at-risk,” it also was determined that children and the elderly(age +65) are the most vulnerable groups.

Regarding online problem gambling, children and young adults (age 19-24) are the groups with bigger risks of suffering online problem gambling, with adolescents having a risk 5 times bigger against non-online gamblers

The First Steps to Self-exclusion

With problem gambling having such prevalence in the country, the Amministrazione Autonoma dei Monopoli di Stato – Autonomous Administration of the State Monopolies- ordered the implementation of a unique self-exclusion scheme for all its online licensed operators.

The system allowed players in distress to make a stop or cooldown their gambling habits by refraining any access to online gaming providers. Although necessary, the solution quickly became troublesome as there are some ways to remove self-exclusion with NonAAMS.com which quickly gains popularity among Italian customers.

To self-exclude, customers needed to fill a request order to each operator where they had an account. This left a breach to others (especially rogue operators) to target these vulnerable customers as there was nothing that barred them from making a new account with a different company. The evidence was clear: A new and more efficient self-exclusion scheme was required.

Unique Self Exclusion Registry – USER

Thanks to the joint effort between the ADM, the Polytechnic University of Milan, and the Italian state financial auditor SOGEI; the Unique Self Exclusion Registry was finally launched.

The purpose of the USER scheme is to create a gambling framework that fits modern consumer trends. Under the new “Transversal self-exclusion” system, once a customer has requested its removal form an online gambling operator, they must comply to close the account and inform it to the central registry within the AAMS servers. All other operators will receive an alert and proceed with the account suspension without the perjury of its fund withdrawal rights.

This not only excludes customers from direct gambling., but also from getting targeted with gaming advertisements and promotions. The biggest temptations of gambling enthusiasts, especially for the ones seeking recovery for their habit.

Periods for self-exclusion vary from 30 to 90 days like in GamStop scheme but operators are entitled to extend the period up to 120 days or more depending on the customer request. Once the cool-off period finishes or a customer wants to retake gambling before its expiration, he/she must wait a 7-day delay period before getting the licensee approval.

In cases when the customer specifically requests an exclusion for less than 30 days in a specific game, the license is not obligated to list the customer in the transversal system. A specific game short self-exclusion (24 hours) is considered a “conscious” pause to prevent the customer from engaging in more harmful behaviour such as tilting.

As a self-exclusion scheme, the service becomes free for all residents, as is mandatory for all Italian licensees to fund its upkeep and strongly comply with it by easing all the necessary methods to protect customers. and help them put a stop to their gambling urges

Conclusion

For the AAMS, self-exclusion has become the much needed sanitizing tool for an industry that has a long time conflict with family values but at the same is a grained part of their culture.

Of course,  the system isn’t bulletproof. Those with a clear intention of gambling no matter the consequences will spend all its resources and energy to find a way around to keep betting

But for those willing to take a step away from their unhealthy habits, the scheme provides itself trustworthy. Combining the service with the proper guidance and support,  chances for a successful recovery will become wider.

Author: Fabrizio Goria is an Italian journalist with a law background. A mix of legal and gambling knowledge gave him an opportunity to provide their expertise for Italian gamblers via articles and different studies.


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