21 and over: Caesars unveils new gaming restrictions

Caesars Entertainment has announced plans to strengthen its responsible gambling policy by increasing the age restriction on Caesars Rewards and expanding its self-exclusion program – a launch taking place during Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

The Reno-based operator of some of the Strip’s largest properties said last week it will roll out its self-exclusion program across its entire gaming portfolio by the end of March. It will also limit Caesars Rewards accounts to customers over the age of 21 and, where permitted by law, restrict all domestic gaming, parimutuel, sports and iGaming options to those over the age of 21.

According to Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, self-exclusion programs are used to treat gambling addictions by having the person ask a casino to ban them from gambling, and often removing them from loyalty programs and marketing lists. Terms can vary, but are often between one and five years, with some programs offering a lifetime exclusion.

Anyone on a state-sponsored self-exclusion list on which Caesars operates will be added to the universal list for all Caesars gaming facilities and platforms, such as the Caesars Sportsbook app, excluding them from mobile and in-person betting. A person can also add themselves to the list.

Caesars began looking at how to extend the Universal Self-Exclusion Policy to digital and brick-and-mortar businesses when it acquired William Hill in 2021.

“It’s something we’ve been working on for a while, and we wanted to launch our universal self-exclusion program as soon as it was ready,” Caesars spokeswoman Kate Whiteley said in an emailed statement. “It just so happens to coincide with the end of Problem Gambling Awareness Month, but we’re excited to have the chance to talk about it as the industry focuses on the critical topic of responsible gaming.”

Experts say the move is a welcome one.

“This is something that responsible gambling/public health advocates have been suggesting for a long time, and it is an incredibly useful change to the self-exclusion tool, which is often a major asset in problem gambling treatment facilities as well,” Brett Abarbanel, executive director of UNLV’s International Gaming Institute , said in an email.

However, the method is not without challenges. Exclusion is voluntary, and most states require that person — not a loved one — be the one to sign up.

And enforcement can be difficult, as most casinos don’t have controlled access to the gaming floor, Whyte said. Instead, banned gamblers are usually caught if they win a jackpot and are required to show ID, or if the casino uses high-tech enforcement tools such as facial recognition.

Whiteley said Caesars’ enforcement practices are similar, as some tools can identify banned gamblers, while others are spotted when they win a jackpot or other payout.

It’s not known how many people in the United States participate in such programs each year because it’s a mix of private and public lists, Whyte said.

“But the most important lesson is that self-exclusion is just one tool to help an individual deal with their gambling problem — ultimately, the goal is to help them get help for their gambling problem through a therapist and/or a self-help group,” he said. “Self-exclusion is a means to that end, not a substitute for help.”

McKenna Ross is a member of the Corps at Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. Please contact her at mross@reviewjournal.com. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on Twitter.

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