Published: 11:00, 04 June 2015
| Updated: 11:02, 04 June 2015
Twenty three people have excluded themselves from all betting shops in Chatham as part of a unique scheme to tackle problem gambling.
The project is six months in and is run by Medway Council and bookmakers.
It is the first scheme in the UK to offer gamblers the chance to ban themselves from all bookmakers in an entire town by filling in just one form.
Previously, people who wanted to exclude themselves could only do it from one operator at a time.
Jane Chitty, Medway Council’s head of planning, economic growth and regulation, said: "Assisting just one gambler to self-exclude in order to get help and support would be worth it, but I am delighted that 23 people have benefited so far.
“The Council has implemented measures that work at a local level but I am pleased to note that the joint work we are doing here in Medway is going to help the development of a national scheme.”
Hilary Douglas, campaigns director at the Association of British Bookmakers, said: “We have learned from the Chatham pilot the importance of social interaction at the point of self-exclusion.
“Our customers who wish to self-exclude have given us very positive feedback and have welcomed the simplicity of this scheme which means that they only have to fill in one form and the rest is done for them.
“We have also learned that flexibility in defining the geographic self-exclusion area for each customer is helpful. These lessons are helping the industry and the Gambling Commission shape the broader Self-Exclusion scheme which will be in place by 2016.”
Anyone wishing to self-exclude is asked to provide two passport-quality photographs and their personal details which enable staff to be on the lookout for them and help them keep to their commitment not to gamble.
The Voluntary Partnership Agreement has been monitored by the Medway Responsible Gambling Partnership which includes representatives from Medway Council, gambling operators, the Association of British Bookmakers, police, the Community Safety Partnership and Safer Medway Partnership.
Medway’s multi-operator self-exclusion scheme will run for the next 18 months.