Description and assessment of trustability of motives for self-exclusion reported by online poker gamblers in a cohort using account-based gambling data

Published in BMJ Open, 2018

A. Luquiens, D. Vendryes, H.-J. Aubin, A. Benyamina, S. Gaiffas, E. Bacry

Objective. Self-exclusion is one of the main responsible gambling tools. The aim of this study was to assess the reliability of self-exclusion motives in self-reports to the gambling service provider.

Settings. This is a retrospective cohort using prospective account-based gambling data obtained from a poker gambling provider.

Participants. Over a period of 7 years we included all poker gamblers self-excluding for the first time, and reporting a motive for their self-exclusion (n=1996). We explored two groups: self-excluders who self-reported a motive related to addiction and those who reported a commercial motive.

Results. No between-group adjusted difference was found on gambling summary variables. Sessions in the two groups were poorly discriminated one from another on four different machine-learning models. More than two-thirds of the gamblers resumed poker gambling after a first self-exclusion (n=1368), half of them within the first month. No between-group difference was found for the course of gambling after the first self-exclusion. 60.1% of first-time self-excluders self-excluded again (n=822). Losses in the previous month were greater before second self-exclusions than before the first.

Conclusions. Reported motives for self-exclusion appear non-informative, and could be misleading. Multiple self- exclusions seem to be more the rule than the exception. The process of self-exclusion should therefore be optimised from the first occurrence to protect heavy gamblers.

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