Why Self-Excluded Players Take A Big Risk When They Gamble Online In New Jersey

Steve Ruddock May 19, 2017 1084 Reads
NJ online gambling risk

One New Jersey gambler recently learned that playing while under a self-exclusion is risky business.

New Jersey provides gamblers with a number of tools to help curb problem gambling behaviors. One of the most widely used options is for players to self-exclude, which means their accounts will be flagged. If used, they’ll no longer be able to access the state’s licensed online gambling sites, nor are they supposed to enter the state’s land-based casinos during the exclusion period.

Per the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement’s self-exclusion portal:

It is your responsibility to refrain from gaming activities… However, if you are caught gambling on an Internet gaming site, you will be subject to forfeiture of any winnings, including any chips, tokens, or electronic gaming device credits in your possession, and you will be removed from the Internet gaming site.

The story of ‘ST’ in NJ

After creating an account in his wife’s name, a self-excluded player engaged in some subterfuge in order to access one of New Jersey’s licensed online casinos. Despite booking a $15,000 win, the story didn’t end well for the person identified only as “ST.”

After contacting customer support to check on his withdrawal, ST was told he could only speak with the person listed on the account. When he informed the customer support rep that he had been the person playing on the site, and not his wife, the jig was up.

ST admitted to creating and being the sole user of the accounts registered in his wife’s name. That meant he violated the site’s terms and conditions, as well as being in violation of his self-exclusion ban.

Per the New Jersey regulations cited above, ST had to forfeit his winnings. He didn’t fight it. It doesn’t look like he will be prosecuted for identity theft.

Self-exclusion still works better online

To my knowledge, this is the first instance of a self-excluded player gaining access to a licensed New Jersey online casino. And he likely would have gotten away with it had he not called customer support. But this doesn’t mean this is a widespread online gaming problem.

To access the site, ST needed to know intimate information about another person. He had to risk being caught (and forfeiting money) and also the possibility of being prosecuted for a crime.

In a land-based setting, a self-excluded player can simply change their look a bit, or just hope they’re not identified by casino staff. It’s impossible for every employee to know the face of every person on the self-exclusion. There’s no crime being committed.

Online it’s a bit more difficult. A self-excluded player can’t hope they’re not identified; their account is flagged. The only option is to pretend to be someone you’re not. As was the case with ST, the only plausible way to pull this off is to commit a crime.

The seriousness of problem gambling

The story is a good illustration of the barriers in place that prevent self-excluded players from accessing an online casino. But it also highlights the lengths problem gamblers will go to in order to get their fix, despite the possible risks.

In the case of ST, he self-excluded for a period of one year on July 28, 2015. ST created the phony account in his wife’s name on just two months before he could take himself off the self-exclusion list.

Instead of waiting the final two months, he decided to create bogus accounts.

Improving self-exclusion monitoring

The situation with ST may have a silver lining that could help spot this type of activity in the future.

The judgment indicates ST funded the accounts he created in his wife’s name with a credit card in his name.

This seems like a good opportunity for sites to revisit their internal auditing procedures. The could add an extra layer of security to their responsible gaming procedures.

If sites could come up with a way to flag credit cards of people on the self-exclusion list — even if they’re used to fund accounts in other people’s name — they could prevent a similar scenario from playing out again.