JRA introduces third-party gambler exclusion policy

The Japan Racing Association (JRA) began implementing third-party gambling addiction exclusions at the end of December, heralding a new direction in Japanese policy expected to apply not only to current forms of gambling, but also to the IRs likely to open in the mid-2020s.

The JRA’s new policy allows family members to request that their loved ones who are diagnosed with gambling disorders, or else strongly suspected of pathological gambling due to their spending habits, be placed on a list that suspends their participation in online horse race betting.

While the JRA’s initiative immediately applies only to online horse betting (and not even at the horse tracks themselves, nor at off-track betting booths), it is expected to become an anti-addiction policy template for other forms of gambling within Japan.

The JRA had an existing policy in place allowing gamblers to self-exclude from online gambling, but by the end of 2017 only about a dozen people had actually utilized the system.

The eventual government policy of self-exclusion, as well as family-exclusion, is expected to apply much more widely, including measures that would aim to physically prevent pathological gamblers from entering the concerned venues. Most details regarding enforcement and oversight of the system remain to be worked out.

The National Diet is likely to pass an initial “Basic Bill on Gambling Addiction Countermeasures” in the Ordinary Diet Session that begins later this month and is scheduled to end in June.