There are still a small number of UK online gambling sites and UK casinos not on Gamstop. As we move forward all UKGC licensed online casinos and online betting and gambling websites will be required by default to register to Gamstop.
What is Gamstop?
Gamstop is the UK Gambling Commission self exclusion program. This is a huge game changer for problem gamblers in the UK and something rumoured to be being implemented also by the MGA (Malta Gaming Authority) licensing authority in the future as well (we can only hope). The best explanation of the program is to quote Gamstop itself:
“GAMSTOP lets you put controls in place to help restrict your online gambling activities.
Sign up for the service and you will be prevented from using gambling websites and apps run by companies licensed in Great Britain, for a period of your choosing.
GAMSTOP is a free service for users. GAMSTOP is available for consumers resident within the United Kingdom (Great Britain and Northern Ireland) only.”
UK Casinos not on Gamstop
As we have said, there are still a handful of UK casinos not registered to Gamstop but this is going to change in the very near future with all UKGC licensed casinos required to be signed up top Gamstop (I think the last few are in the process of being registered as we speak). Of course there will still be some non UKGC licensed casinos not using Gamstop but which accept UK players but these will be very few and far between so it may be worth self excluding yourself from these individually as well, there are not many and are Rival / RTG / Betsoft / USA Casinos so worthwhile to make sure you close all options.
Please check the Gamstop website regularly for updates, at the time of publication the following is the current state of play:
“Welcome to the first phase of UK’s national online self-exclusion scheme.
GAMSTOP currently includes a large number of online gambling websites, but not all. In due course, all online gambling websites will be required to join by the Gambling Commission.
Until then you can register early with GAMSTOP, which will exclude you from the gambling websites that have signed up already.
Coverage will increase as more online gambling firms join the scheme, without you having to reregister with GAMSTOP. A list of participating gambling companies is in the footer of the site. If you gamble online with a company that is not listed and want to be excluded from the site, then you will need to contact them directly.
We welcome your feedback about your experiences using GAMSTOP.”
There is a list of all active participation betting sites, and gambling sites and casinos covered by Gamstop on their website but if you are a problem gambler we would advise you assume that ALL sites are registered with Gamstop and self exclude yourself for the maximum time period allowed (5 years).
Please do read through their website so that you understand the implications and the steps you must follow.
Alternatives to GAMSTOP (and Gamstop options for non UK residents)
Some gambling regulators have their own self exclusion programs already (the Kahnawake authority in Canada springs to mind and in the Netherlands they are about to unveil the CRUKS casino exclusion system) however for the majority of problem gamblers the wait for Malta for example to implement their own scheme remains a troubling issue. There are some protections you can put into place yourself.
Gamban software aims to block online gambling sites from being reachable on your computer. The problem here though is that this software is not free and does not work 100% of the time. Then there is of course the issue that any hardcore gambler with a bit of computer knowledge can disable the software if they feel a great gambling urge.
Other online gambling protection software
The same issue arises with other software aiming to curb online gambling and there are a few other programs out there. These can help but are not nearly enough protection.
Land based gambling and land casinos
Whilst using Gamstop will help you control or even stop your online casino visits, land based gambling in bookies or bricks and mortar casinos requires you to register to the land based exclusion service separately. For those not in the United Kingdom once again most countries do not have a country wide system (I believe Belgium does have but I could be wrong). So aside from physically visiting your local casinos and bookies and requesting self exclusion there is not much that can stop you barring yourself.
Seek advice from your GP (Doctor) and / or get in touch with Gamblers Anonymous
Workarounds to help you stop gambling are great and you should take advantage of any such system that exists in your country. But you really should consider tackling the gambling monster inside yourself once and for all. Please take steps to get advice and a local councelling center from your doctor or get in touch with Gamblers Anonymous or similar organisation near you. You will never be more than a short drive away from a meeting or center so do take all steps necessary to get the help you need to stop gambling.
Regulator unconvinced by industry problem-gambling measure Gamstop
“Gambling Commission ‘yet to see proper evidence of the effectiveness’ of GamStop”
Online gambling firms could be banned from sending promotional material to customers amid concern from the industry regulator about “unacceptable” flaws in a system designed to help problem gamblers bar themselves from betting.
In a letter obtained by the Guardian, the Gambling Commission warned the industry trade body, the Remote Gambling Association, of failings in betting websites’ new GamStop self-exclusion scheme.
The commission’s executive director, Tim Miller, said he was “yet to see proper evidence of the effectiveness” of GamStop, which was scheduled for launch by the end of 2017 but has suffered delays.
A test by the Guardian on Friday revealed what appeared to be flaws in the technology, which works by collecting personal details from the problem gamblers who sign up and sharing the information with websites so that they can lock those customers out.
It proved easy to register with several websites simply by changing the surname on the account, even when details such as mobile phone number, email and home address remained the same. [edit: we hope this issue has been fixed now but even if it is not, no player should ever attempt this as you will not be eligable for any winnings you may accrue].
The commission said it was also concerned that GamStop did not synchronise its list of registered users with companies’ promotional mailing lists.
This means addicts could still be bombarded with adverts, a problem that has been a common feature of several recent regulatory rulings against gambling companies such as [redacted].
Miller told the RGA that it was “unacceptable that currently GamStop does not interact with marketing lists in that way”.
He said the commission was ready to demand that firms do not send marketing messages to people who have signed up to either GamStop or another self-exclusion scheme, or risk losing their licence.
Given that GamStop currently does not offer this feature, the requirement would be a de facto ban on direct marketing.
A spokesperson for GamStop, funded by online gambling companies, said the system was still being fine-tuned and would be reviewed to see whether user details could be safely linked to marketing lists without compromising personal data.
Several major firms are yet to sign up GamStop, which will become a condition of holding a gambling licence once the commission believes it is ready.
The commission’s warning to the industry comes just days after the government said it would reduce the stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) from £100 to £2.
In a report accompanying the decision, the sports minister, Tracey Crouch, warned the online gambling industry that it should not “take its foot off the pedal” in tackling addiction and could face new regulation if it failed to act.
The Labour MP Carolyn Harris, who led the campaign to reduce the maximum stakes on FOBTs, said GamStop’s flaws showed online firms should now face more scrutiny.
“It never fails to amaze me how laissez-faire the industry is when it comes to offering support to prevent harmful gambling yet manages to make sure ways of making money for the industry are as effective as possible,” she said.
“They must learn from the lessons of reducing the stakes on FOBTs that their stalling and hesitancy to any meaningful exclusion for problem gambling will not be tolerated.”
Amid delays to GamStop, alternatives have emerged that use different techniques.
The digital bank Monzo recently launched a feature that allows customers to block transactions with gambling companies, while Barclays offers a similar service, although only for credit cards.
The former addict and gambling campaigner Matt Zarb-Cousin has launched an app called GamBan that allows people to self-exclude at source by installing software that prevents their phone or computer accessing betting sites.
Zarb-Cousin, a former spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn, said: “GamStop has been delayed several times now, and it’s no surprise it’s been a logistical nightmare given online gambling companies don’t want to have to request ID when a customer signs up, which is surely the only way self-exclusion can be properly enforced.
“The delay is costing problem gamblers dearly, so in the meantime operators should look at offering addicted customers software that blocks all gambling sites.”
18th May 2018 – Source
Editors Note: GamStop is of course not to be confused with GameStop which is of course a web shop for pc and console video gaming. GameStop has nothing to do with online casinos or online gambling.
UKGC Press Release about GamStop (aka OMOSES or NOSES)
GAMSTOP: Online multi-operator self-exclusion scheme / National online self-exclusion scheme
The gambling industry aims to have an online multi-operator self-exclusion scheme in place by Spring 2018. We are very pleased that the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) is taking this work forward on behalf of the online sector and we will continue to liaise closely with them throughout the process.
The Remote Gambling Association has announced that GAMSTOP is the name of the national online self-exclusion scheme.
Creating and managing an effective scheme will allow the industry to further demonstrate commitment to improving player protection.
An industry-led and managed solution is best placed to deliver an effective and efficient scheme by building, in particular, on the core experience and expertise in the industry of developing and overseeing large IT solutions, as well as administering current self-exclusion schemes.
We have a keen interest in ensuring that a successful scheme is developed and implemented for consumers. We want continuing focus during the design of the scheme on the customers that will use it and we will assist by offering advice on the principles that should underpin a fit for purpose, consumer-focused, scheme. For example characteristics of such a scheme would include:
- identity checks during the registration process to ensure the person and their personal details are correctly registered
- a design that effectively recognises and accommodates the fact that the sector includes operators of different sizes
- appropriate allocation of costs across operators
- suitable governance arrangements.
The RGA has commissioned a scoping study to assess the options and associated costs for a national scheme. That final scheme will, of course, include all relevant online operators licensed by the Gambling Commission and not just RGA members.
We will work closely with the RGA to ensure that notable milestones in the project’s evolution are brought to the attention of the wider industry and that there are opportunities to discuss the project with representatives of the RGA.