Most people take part in Maryland gambling as a form of entertainment. Although they hope to take home more money than they spend, having fun remains the main purpose. This is true for both casino visitors as well as online sports bettors.
For some, however, gambling becomes an addiction. They spend money they can’t afford to lose while trying to recover funds they should’ve never bet. That’s where Maryland’s Voluntary Exclusion Program (VEP) comes in.
Maryland’s Voluntary Exclusion Program
Online sports betting in Maryland launched last month, but online casino gambling and online poker are still banned in the state. Legal gambling can only be done within the five casinos and one racino in Maryland. Sports betting, however, is available both at casinos and online.
The Maryland VEP allows individuals to voluntarily ban themselves from certain gaming activities offered in the state. This particular program is available to anyone in Maryland. In Maryland, players can exclude themselves from casinos, bingo halls, the Maryland Lottery, sports betting and daily fantasy sports (DFS).
These types of exclusion lists are one of the most widely used responsible gaming strategies nationwide. Since each state has a slightly different program for self-exclusion, Maryland exclusions may or may not carry over to other states, as the self-exclusion application reads:
“If a Maryland sports wagering business has affiliated sports wagering businesses in other jurisdictions, I may be banned from engaging in sports wagering with those businesses in-person and online, and from using any player rewards benefits I may have accrued in Maryland.”
Maryland’s voluntary exclusion list rose by 41 applicants in November. And although this slight rise coincides with the launch of online sports betting, that number isn’t out of the ordinary when comparing the year as a whole.
What does it mean to self-exclude?
When someone self-excludes from casino gambling in Maryland, they agree to refrain from entering casinos for a set period of time.
When a person self-excludes from sports wagering, they agree to not place a wager at a retail sportsbook or online. Players who exclude themselves from wagering on sports and/or DFS are also banned from entering any Maryland casino with a retail sportsbook.
The main reason the self-exclusion program exists is to help problem gamblers. Maryland offers a 24/7 helpline at 800-GAMBLER (800-426-2537) for those who might have a problem. The state also provides an online chat service. Both services are free and confidential.
Severe gambling addiction affects less than 1% of the population nationally. Fortunately, responsible gambling programs can help curb the issue before it turns into a serious problem.
If you think you or a loved one may have a gambling problem, the state offers an online severity index quiz.
Some identifiers for those who might want to self-exclude are:
- Increasing periods of time gambling
- Preoccupation with gambling
- Spending increasing amounts of money
- Chasing losses
- Borrowing money to gamble
- Increasing gambling-related debt
- Lying to cover up gambling
- Neglecting work, family or friends to gamble
- Gambling to escape from obligations or life’s daily pressures
How to self-exclude in Maryland
Players wishing to self-exclude themselves from online sports betting or casino gambling must fill out an application. Maryland then offers two options for submission.
The first is in person at a Maryland casino anytime during casino operation hours.
The second option is to submit the application in person at the gaming control agency. Those who wish to apply for self-exclusion this way must make an appointment by contacting Responsible Gambling Program Coordinator Jasmine Countess at (410) 230-8798.
The application process takes 30 to 45 minutes to complete. There is no charge for self-exclusion.
Maryland provides two choices for voluntary exclusion: a two-year exclusion or a lifetime ban. Those who choose the two-year route must request removal from the exclusion list via the Maryland State Lottery & Gaming Control Agency after two years. Players can contact Jasmine Countess to inquire about the specific steps required. The final decision to remove someone from the list then rests with the commission.
What happens after submitting an application?
Once an individual submits a self-exclusion application, it goes under review by gaming control agency staff. This process generally takes somewhere between four to six weeks. Once approved, the person’s name is removed from all direct mailing lists, and access to all player cards and accounts is deactivated.
Those who have self-excluded from sports betting are subject to arrest for trespassing if they enter a casino with a sportsbook. The same goes for anyone with a casino exclusion who enters a casino in general.
The responsibility of avoiding such establishments rests solely with the self-excluded individual.