Launched in April 2018, the Gamstop initiative was another in the regulators drive to help reduce access for problem gamblers. The self-exclusion scheme is an optional choice still. It’s for those who felt it could help reduce their exposure to online gambling platforms. Our Gamstop Initiative Report released back in 2020 looks at the gambling industry as a whole. It also aimed to look at changes and effectiveness of the Gamstop Initiative. But how does the Gamstop Initiative look today, and are there other alternatives?
How has Gamstop changed?
The fundamentals of the Gamstop Initiative remain the same. Players can self-exclude themselves for a period of time in which they’ll be unable to access sites registered to Gamstop. This also means they won’t be able to receive marketing materials either. In March of 2020, the regulator made it mandatory for all registered services in the UK to be registered to the Gamstop Initiative. This meant if a player did self-exclude themselves, they’d be excluded from all registered casinos and betting sites in the UK.
Has Gamstop Been Effective?
Whilst there haven’t been any official figures released on a regular basis for how many players are registered, and how long these players choose to self-exclude for, there have been some issues along the way. The most notable has been with services still being able to advertise despite players being registered to the service, undermining one of the more important efforts.
There are updated customer care changes coming to online casinos and betting sites towards the end of the year. These changes are aimed at cracking down on these marketing blunders. But whether or not Gamstop has been effective is something that will remain an unknown until official figures are released.
Are there Gamstop Alternatives?
Whilst there is nothing quite of the same scale or anything that is officially supported by the UKGC. There are two other big services that are used worldwide and in the UK.
GamBan works similarly to Gamstop in the sense that it’s a self-exclusion service. It works in a similarly way by blocking access to sites and to marketing materials too. For those in the UK it is free to use. For those outside of the UK it is a paid subscription service. GamBan does have more of a global focus, however, rather than just blocking UK registered services.
GamCare is another alternative, but it tackles problem gambling in a different way. By raising awareness and offering online support instead. Whilst this service doesn’t directly block any websites or apps, the hope is that the support offered for free is enough. So, whilst not directly comparable, it is another service that aims to provide the same goal.
Misconceptions about Gamstop
As with any big service, that are often myths or misconceptions around its usage. Whether of its effectiveness, and other factors around it too – so which hare some of the biggest?
The first may be the belief that players looking to find ways around services registered Gamstop are only those currently restricted from using gambling services because of the block which isn’t necessarily true.
Many players that seek out alternatives are simply those that don’t agree with the mandatory nature of the initiative. They would prefer to play on more openly accessible platforms. Others are simply seeking out non uk casinos that offer different bonuses or different games too. So it isn’t necessarily just for problem players looking to avoid restriction.
Another misconception is that it’s a permanent block. Players who do choose to self-exclude can choose to do so for a set period of time and can also remove this restriction at any point. There may be a question-and-answer call required to understand why it’s being cancelled, but it can ultimately be cancelled at any time too.
Some misconceptions also grow around the online casinos themselves with the thought that those who choose not to be part of Gamstop may be unsafe. This isn’t true however. Only UK registered services are made mandatory to sign up which means there are a large number of non uk casinos that are still easily accessible. Many have been registered in countries like Malta and Gibraltar, but over the years there have been a growing number of other countries accepting UK players too.