GCA Offers Self-Exclusion Option for Problem Gamblers

8 December 2000
Problem gamblers who find themselves withdrawing money from ATMs with their credit or debit cards at casinos, only to regret the move later, have a new method in controlling their habits. Global Cash Access (GCA), a supplier of cash access, financial management and customer relationship marketing technologies to the gaming industry, has enhanced its STEP "self-exclusion" option for problem gamblers to ATMs it now operates.

STEP (Self Transaction Exclusion Program) is designed to offer problem gamblers a method to block their own access to credit card and POS debit card and cash advances at more than 1,000 casinos throughout the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. STEP is phase two of GCA's Responsible Gaming Partnership.

With the new enhancement, individuals who call a 24-hour, toll-free helpline for the National Council on Problem Gambling can be set up in the STEP program. Once in the system, any withdrawals made from ATMs operated by GCA that are STEP-enabled can be blocked. The GCA ATMs that are included in the program bear a special STEP decal.

GCA has built the gaming industry's largest ATM network, with a majority of its ATMs being acquired earlier this year from Innoventry Corp. and Bank of America. The former Bank of America ATMs will be converted to STEP over the next 36 months as GCA assumes operations of the units as part of a transition plan.

GCA CEO Kirk Sanford said the move is all part of an effort to help problem gamblers, while still offering convenient ATM access for other gamblers.

"The majority of gaming patrons realize the benefits of convenience and safety of our cash access services, but for the small percentage of users that are compulsive gamblers, we want to remove the temptation to behave irresponsibly," Sanford said in a release.

Once GCA has been authorized to reject a card from its network, GCA will not reinstate access to the card for a period of one year. Following the one-year waiting period, the cardholder must submit a revocation form in order to reinstate access. Launched in April of 1999, the Responsible Gaming Partnership program was initiated with the cooperation of the NCPG to urge gaming patrons to "think" and act responsibly in obtaining funds for gaming activities through GCA cash access devices.

The effort includes point-of-decision messages, including the NCPG 24-hour, toll-free helpline number, which is displayed via highly visible decals and transaction receipts at GCA's ATM, POS debit and credit card cash advance devices. Problem gamblers who want to participate in the STEP program can call the 24-hour toll free helpline for the National Council on Problem Gambling at 800/522-4700. STEP authorization forms are also available on the GCA web site at www.globalcashaccess.com or by making a request to a cage operator at participating casinos.

Nobody knows where Kevin Smith came from. He simply showed up one day and started writing articles for IGN. We liked him, so we decided to keep him. We think you'll like him too. Kevin can be reached at kevin@igamingnews.com.