As more online casinos and betting sites pop up, the risks of developing a gambling addiction are also growing.
That’s why Pennsylvania has made multiple tools available for gamblers who are concerned that their habits might be getting out of control.
Responsible gambling is key to enjoying casino games, sporting events, video gaming terminals (VGT), and fantasy sports leagues.
When these activities start to take over someone’s life or affect their finances, they might be at risk of developing a problem or addiction.
From limiting the time and money you can spend at online casinos to completely banning yourself from participating in any gambling activities in the state, Pennsylvania has multiple resources available for anyone struggling with their gambling habits.
If you’re looking for a way to take a break from gambling, keep reading to learn more about what self-exclusion means, how it works, and how you can voluntarily ban yourself from land-based and online casinos and betting sites in PA.
What Is Self-Exclusion At A Casino?
Self-exclusion is a way for gamblers to voluntarily ban themselves from any betting activities in the state of Pennsylvania for a predetermined period.
Adding your name to any of the state’s four self-exclusion lists is a formal process and not a decision to take lightly.
Self-exclusion is considered the last resort for people whose gambling habits are out of control and who need help getting back on track.
If you sign up for self-exclusion, you will be effectively prohibited from entering brick-and-mortar casinos and VGTs, registering and playing at online casinos, sportsbooks, apps, and betting sites, and participating in fantasy sports contests.
There is a separate list for online lotteries.
Once your name is on the list, you will be ineligible to receive any type of marketing or promotional materials, including gifts and services, from casinos and other gambling providers.
Keep in mind that licensed gambling providers have the right to ban anyone on any of the self-exclusion lists from their business, including those operating outside of Pennsylvania.
Responsible Gambling Steps To Take Before Self-Exclusion
Because online gambling is so easily accessible and fun, it can be hard for some people to keep track of the amount of time and money they spend at online casinos and gaming apps, leading to unhealthy behavior, debt, and other issues at home or work.
If you’re not ready to put your name on the state’s self-exclusion lists but want to curb your gambling, there are other less drastic options you might want to consider first.
Time And Betting Limits
For example, you could start by controlling the time and funds you can spend at online casinos and sportsbooks by placing self-imposed limits on your accounts.
Temporary Time Outs
If this isn’t enough, you can temporarily ban yourself from specific online casinos and betting services. These changes can be managed directly through your account settings on their websites.
Sometimes, taking time away from gambling sites and apps can help break compulsive behavior.
Other sources and tools like counseling, group meetings, and information on problematic gaming can also be useful for anyone displaying worrying signs of a gambling addiction.
Who Controls The Pennsylvania Self-Exclusion List?
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) is the legal entity in charge of enforcing gambling laws and regulations, granting licenses to betting services providers, and promoting responsible gaming in the Keystone State.
The PGCB also controls the self-exclusion lists for online and land-based casinos and betting providers.
All gambling services in the state are required by law to protect vulnerable customers and make responsible gaming tools easily available and accessible.
Keep in mind that if you sign up for any of the self-exclusion lists and are caught using the services you banned yourself from, you will be forced to forfeit any winnings and can be cited or arrested for trespassing if at a physical location.
How To Ban Yourself From Gambling In Pennsylvania
If you feel that banning yourself from gambling is the best thing for you, Pennsylvania has made it easy for anyone to put their name on any or all of the state’s self-exclusion lists.
Go to the PGCB website where you will find a form that you must fill out to get your name on the self-exclusion lists.
You will need to first sign up for an account to continue with the registration.
You must then choose which of the lists you want to be on. You can exclude yourself from just one or all four of the following: land-based casinos and betting establishments, online gambling sites and apps, video gaming terminals (VGT), and sports fantasy activities.
You can also choose the period of self-exclusion that best suits your needs. For casinos, online providers, and VGTs, you can choose to ban yourself for one year, five years, or a lifetime.
For fantasy sports, you can determine the length of time yourself, starting at one year.
Online Casinos Vs. Physical Casinos
Whether you want to ban yourself from all online betting services or physical casinos, the process is the same.
The process can be completed either online or in person at a PGCB office. Keep in mind that you will be required to submit photographs of yourself as well as other personal information.
Self-exclusion is a completely voluntary step and only you can put your name on the list, which is why validating your identity is such an important part of the process.
How To Remove Yourself From The Self-Exclusion List In Pennsylvania
Voluntarily excluding yourself from gambling activities is a big decision, and so is removing your name from the list.
Wait out the period. Regardless of whether you put your name on one or all of the state’s self-exclusion lists, to be eligible for removal you have to wait until the predetermined period for the ban has expired.
Petition the board. Keep in mind that lifetime bans cannot be reversed without directly petitioning the Board Clerk by calling the Office of Hearings and Appeals.
Renew before the period ends. Self-exclusion from online gaming, fantasy sports, and VGTs will automatically expire after the selected ban period. If you would like to extend or renew your ban, you can do so before the original time expires.
Use the correct site. For casino bans, you must request to be removed from the list through the PGCB website. Until you do, the ban will remain in effect even if the period has concluded.
Online Casinos Vs. Physical Casinos
Remember, the process is the same for both online and brick-and-mortar casinos in PA.
If you feel that you have the tools to keep your gambling habits under control and that you can start playing responsibly, you can remove your name from the self-exclusion lists by following a few simple steps.
But before you take these steps, make sure you are ready and able to set and respect your limits, and to manage the time and money spent gambling more thoughtfully.
Who To Contact In Pennsylvania If You Have A Gambling Problem
If you’re losing hours of your day chasing bets, are thinking of gambling as a way to make money rather than a form of entertainment, or are in debt because of your gambling habits, Pennsylvania has multiple tools and resources to help.
The PGCB has its helpline which you can access via phone call, text, or online chat.
The Council on Compulsive Gambling in Pennsylvania also has a helpline and chat, as well as resources and information that can be useful for those struggling with unhealthy gambling habits.
Affiliated with the PA Council, the National Council on Problem Gambling has a confidential helpline and information about treatment programs and self-screening tools.
Support Groups And Meetings
Twelve-step programs like Gamblers Anonymous are helpful for gamblers aiming to keep themselves accountable and socialize with others who can relate to their struggles.
Search for meetings in your area for more information, schedules, and locations.
The American Consumer Credit Counseling offers assistance to people who have fallen into debt due to their gambling habits.