Massachusetts Gaming Commission Proposes National Voluntary Exclusion Program

Written By TJ McBride on May 1, 2024 - Last Updated on May 3, 2024
Nationwide Voluntary Exclusion Program

Mark Vander Linden, executive director of research for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, has proposed a voluntary self-exclusion program that would span across states.

This idea, which will be discussed at an upcoming responsible gambling conference on May 14, could be a revolutionary new resource for US gambling.

Massachusetts considers national voluntary exclusion list

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission spent some time discussing the preliminary idea of a national voluntary self-exclusion program during a meeting this past Tuesday.

Such a program could be a game-changer for Massachusetts sports betting, not to mention those looking for resources to help with problematic gambling habits. Vander Linden said:

“I want to gauge the commission’s interest around the commission engaging with other New England states with a company called idPair in order to develop a national — well, start off regional and then national — voluntary self-exclusion program.”

Currently, voluntary self-exclusion programs do not cross state lines. Thus, creating a system where these exclusion programs are national could further benefit residents everywhere. According to Vander Linden:

“There really is not an example in Massachusetts or New England or within the country that allows VSE reciprocity between states. So, an individual that enrolls in the voluntary self-exclusion program in Massachusetts is not extended to a statewide voluntary self-exclusion in Rhode Island or Connecticut or New York. That just is not possible as it is governed by our regulation as well as the regulations in the states I just mentioned.”

Vander Linden details benefits of national VEP list

To paint a picture of why this program is needed, Vander Linden provided an example shared with him by a GameSense advisor.

“I had a young man in his twenties that told me he had been driving around the last two days all along the East coast doing exclusions everywhere. His last stop before returning was to New York. He had gone everywhere from Maryland, up through Atlantic City, into Connecticut and Rhode Island and back to Massachusetts.”

“This is just an example that how if someone wants to take action to prohibit themselves from gaming in casinos, the sort of crazy efforts they need to do to in order to have protections from these things. It is not an easy process, and it is especially difficult for people in early recovery.”

Vander Linden already has a company in mind for this type of endeavor which operates under the name idPair.

“ID Pair, a company based in the US, has proposed a model for a national voluntary self-exclusion program that offers individuals an opportunity to enroll in voluntary self-exclusion and have it apply across multiple states and gambling products in one online form.”

Massachusetts Gaming Commission greenlights Vander Linden’s national VEP list plan

Vander Linden’s idea of a national self-exclusion program gained almost unanimous support from the MGC, who have been outspoken in the fight for Massachusetts responsible gambling efforts. Commissioner Brad Hill was the first to voice his agreement, saying:

“The concept I absolutely agree with. I think we all can agree we should absolutely look into this.”

Immediately following Hill’s proclamation of support came Commissioner Eileen O’Brian with her own voice of approval, saying:

“I think this is a great idea.”

Commissioner Nakisha Skinner did not deviate from the trend and also stood behind the idea.

“I agree with my fellow commissioners. It is definitely worth looking into if this is something we want to adopt this for Massachusetts.”

Lastly, interim chair Jordan Maynard put his stamp of approval on the idea.

“I will add my voice to the chorus which is to say I think it is important that we look into this.”

Massachusetts needs more details before moving forward

Even with all of this support, multiple commissioners stated they needed more substance behind the idea before moving forward. The idea has unanimous approval, but the process is complex and is still in its infancy. That is why Vander Linden is not planning for it in his FY 2025 budget.

“My current FY2025 budget does not have this built into it. I think this is something that, if we get the answers we are looking for and there is an intention to move forward, we would need to look at how to build this int my FY2025 budget. It may be more realistic that there would be a discovery period and that we build it into future budgets if this makes sense for the gaming commission.”

It might not be right away, but the ball is rolling toward a more cohesive voluntary self-exclusion process. And if Vander Linden’s idea makes headway, the program could very well become a national one.

The commission urged Vander Linden to continue discussing the topic during an upcoming MGC-hosted conference on May 14.

Photo by Dreamstime / PlayMA
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TJ McBride

T.J. McBride lives in Denver, Colorado and is best known for his work covering the Denver Nuggets for outlets such as FiveThirtyEight, ESPN, Bleacher Report, and other major outlets. After a decade covering the NBA, T.J. has now stepped into the gaming space and now reports and writes on gambling news across the nation.

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