It is easy to immediately associate GamStop with being the number one self-exclusion tool online. After all, many UK online casinos push it as the definitive way to block your access to casinos, and it is legally required at UKGC-licensed sites. However, there are certainly issues with GamStop, and an unquestionable wealth of alternative options out there may prove better. In-house self-exclusion tools, for instance, can prove just as viable if not a better solution.
How do these options compete with GamStop? I will introduce you to some of these tools here and explain why these in-house self-exclusion options are better than GamStop.
The Downsides to GamStop
First, let me explain why GamStop can be a bad idea for the casual gambler. There are three obvious things that you need to know about GamStop that make it unsuitable for many players. They include:
- Inescapable Once Triggered: The biggest downside to GamStop is that you cannot deactivate it once it has been triggered. You must see out your self-exclusion period until it expires. In the meantime, you won’t be able to play at any casino which is part of the program. This is great for problem gamblers, but it needs to be more relaxed for your casual bettor.
- A Forced Self-Exclusion Tool: The UK Gambling Commission makes it mandatory for any licensees to feature GamStop. They have to offer the program, which means that some of these sites forgo more relaxed responsible gambling tools, instead allowing GamStop to take over.
- Accidental Activation: It is surprisingly easy to trigger GamStop accidentally. A few years back, I almost did so myself and would have if I hadn’t read the T&Cs first. If you accidentally triggered GamStop, mistakenly believing you can block your account for a week or a month, you’re in for a rough time. Six months is the shortest period available.
In-House Self-Exclusion Tools Explained
Just because you decide to play at a reputable casino not on GamStop doesn’t mean you’re short of self-exclusion tools. In fact, most reputable casino sites have an array of tools they have developed. You can turn to these to protect yourself when playing, and they are far more flexible than anything GamStop provides. I will introduce you to some of the best ones I’ve found next. They include:
Deposit and Wager Caps
Even seasoned veterans with a good grasp of their gambling habits may wish to take advantage of deposit and wager caps. In a nutshell – they work like so:
- Deposit Caps: A basic capping tool which limits how much you can deposit. You can set the limit yourself. Once it is set, you can’t overspend until a period (dictated by you) has expired. In my experience, monthly is the way to go here.
- Wager Limits: Wagering limits stop you from actively betting too much. With these caps, you can deposit what you like but can’t wager more than a predetermined amount in a specific timeframe. I recommend daily wager limits.
- Loss Limits: Some (but not all) casinos also offer loss limits. As their name suggests, these put caps on how much you can lose. Once you’ve lost that amount (if you ever do), betting will be frozen until your predetermined period has elapsed. I recommend choosing loss limits based on what you can afford to lose during a week or month- nothing more, nothing less.
You can also put caps on how long you play for. At a basic level, session limits are set to ensure you don’t play longer than you desire. Casino games have a way of sucking you in, especially slots and table games. With session limits, you can avoid that. This isn’t the same as a Reality Check – that reminds you how long you’ve played. Proper session limits will actively stop you from betting once you’ve been at the tables for a while. How long that period is depends on you. You’ll also get to set a time when you can resume betting.
Cool-down periods aren’t the same as self-exclusion tools – or rather, there are subtle differences. With a cool-down period or a time-out, you’re blocking any activity on your casino account for a predetermined time frame. Cool-down periods will last 24 hours, a week or a month. They are relatively short periods. While cool-down periods may not be ideal for problem gambling sufferers, they are ideal for those who’ve decided that they need to take a brief time away without temptation kicking in.
Longer Term Self-Exclusion Tools
If you realise it’s all getting too much, you still don’t need to activate GamStop. Instead, you can rely on in-house self-exclusion tools which work in the same way. However, the benefit of these tools is that they only apply to the casino you’re playing at and, in some cases, its sister sites. You can self-exclude for a month, three months, or longer as you see fit.
Moreover, most non-UKGC, international and European non-GamStop casinos give you the option of deactivating your long-term self-exclusion period. Any responsible site will still expect you to “motivate” this by providing documentation and showcasing that you aren’t a problem gambler. However, the takeaway is that it is much easier to undo long-term self-exclusion options at non-GamStop casinos.
How Can I Discover Which Self-Exclusion Options a Non-GamStop Casino Offers?
You can take it to the bank that virtually every UKGC-licensed online casino will be affiliated with GamStop. What about non-GamStop casinos, though – offshore and independent UK casino sites? There are two simple ways to discover a non-GamStop casino’s self-exclusion options.
Firstly, you can head to the casino in question and click the “responsible gambling” tab or link. This should tell you exactly what services your casino provides in that respect. However, you can also rely on top online casino reviews. If they have been professionally produced by industry experts such as me, then you can rely on UK casino reviews to provide a plethora of in-depth information experienced players have thoroughly researched – this should include any responsible gambling and self-exclusion options at the site.