All online casinos that operate in the UK are soon going to be forced to sign up to Gamstop or risk losing their operating licences. While rumours have been circulating about this change for a while now, we’re expecting it will be confirmed soon by the UKGC, with a view to the change itself taking place towards the end of this year.
It’s already compulsory for bricks and mortar bingo halls, bookmakers and land-based casinos to sign up to a multi-operator self-exclusion system. Which one you sign up to depends on the type of gambling you’re excluding yourself from, as well as which one your local bookie, bingo hall or casino is part of.
Gamstop is different from other multi-operator self-exclusion systems in that it’s an all-encompassing self-exclusion system that covers all forms of online gambling, from online bingo to sports betting and everything in between.
The move by the UKGC is intended to help problem gamblers take control of their online gaming activity by making it easier to self-exclude from multiple online casinos. While it might sound good on paper, we have to wonder if forcing casinos to sign up to a reportedly ineffective self-exclusion system is really the way to go when it comes to genuinely protecting players.
How does self-exclusion work now?
At the moment, if online gamblers want to self-exclude, they need to go to each casino they’re signed up with individually and follow the necessary process, which can be time-consuming. It also makes the system easy to get around as players can simply sign up at a new casino if they want to escape the ban. With hundreds of online casinos on offer and new ones springing up all the time, you’re not likely to have too much trouble finding a place to play.
While some UK casinos have voluntarily signed up to Gamstop, there are still plenty that haven’t, so while it does offer some level of protection, many consider it could be more effective. With the forced affiliation with Gamstop, the idea is that gamblers will be able to self-exclude from all online casinos operating legally in the UK, from a single portal.
So what exactly is Gamstop?
Gamstop was launched in April 2018, by a not for profit organisation with the highly original title of The National Online Self-Exclusion Scheme Limited. Gamstop’s stated objective is to make it easier for players to take a break from online gambling for a designated period of time, with the option to exclude for six months, one year or five years.
It’s a pretty simple concept. Whenever you sign up to a participating casino, they will first check Gamstop’s database (which is currently sitting at close to 50,000 players). If your name and email address come up on the database, you can wave goodbye to playing at that casino.
Joining Gamstop is easy enough, just head over to their website and enter your details. Once you’re in the system, you’ll receive an email confirming your details and exclusion period. Confirm the details are accurate and your self-exclusion will remain in place, even after the exclusion period has passed until you decide to remove it.
Is Gamstop foolproof?
Not by a long shot! As with most things in life, the success of your self-exclusion is down to you. At the moment it’s pretty easy to get around Gamstop’s controls by misspelling your name or using a different email address, although they say they are planning to tighten up their I.D. requirements so this won’t be as easy in the future.
There’s one other whopping downside to Gamstop, and that’s the fact it doesn’t exclude you from receiving marketing materials from the online casinos you’re already signed up to. Getting emails tempting you with offers and new game releases is far from helpful when you’re trying to take a break. At the moment, the only way to opt-out is to unsubscribe individually from each and every casino’s mailing list.
We certainly welcome anything that helps keep players safer online, but it looks like Gamstop needs a bit more work before it can really protect those who need it. However, the rapid raising of awareness and working alongside other organisations like begambleaware.org are all steps in the right direction.