Massachusetts residents concerned about controlling their wagering with the arrival of retail and online sports betting sites now have a specific way to opt out of that environment.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) announced Friday that a voluntary self-exclusion (VSE) list specific to legal sports betting has been created, allowing residents to ban themselves from retail and online sports betting.
“VSE programs are proven to be a successful tool for those who need a break from gambling to manage their own play,” MGC Chair Cathy Judd-Stein said in a press release. “In light of research we have at our disposal, the MGC and our licensees are committed to offering these types of programs and a range of other resources to help gamblers in the Commonwealth.”
The MGC announced Friday that a Voluntary Self-Exclusion list has been established specifically for sports wagering. VSE allows those who want to regain control a means to restrict their access to gambling for a pre-determined amount of time.— MA Gaming Commission (@MassGamingComm) January 27, 2023
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Friday's release cites a 2022 study done at UMass Amherst that suggested 13% to 20% of Massachusetts adults have already been betting on sports and that there was evidence the introduction of event wagering prompted an increase in gambling-related harms.
Furthermore, over 1,700 people in Massachusetts have enrolled in a casino gambling self-exclusion list since the first of those facilities opened in the state in 2015. A preliminary assessment of that program found users reported “significant improvements in gambling problems, mental health, and relationship quality six months after enrolling,” the release noted.
But the new self-exclusion list comes just days before the start of sports betting in Massachusetts. On January 31, three casinos in the Bay State can start taking sports bets from residents, followed by the launch of mobile sports betting across Massachusetts in March.
“We hope that anyone in need of a conversation and some help with minimizing the impact gambling has on their life will consider this evidence-based program,” said Marlene Warner, CEO of the Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health, in the release.
The MGC said that people interested in excluding themselves from sports betting can do so over the phone at 1-800-GAM-1234, online at www.gamesensema.com, or in person at a GameSense Info Center at one of the state's three casinos.
There is also the Massachusetts Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-327-5050 or the MGC's website that residents can use for more information.