According to a new survey conducted to determine the efficacy of GamStop, 10% of players registered on the national self-exclusion program continue to play via offshore websites. The study features 1,703 GamStop users, of whom 1,576 were still serving their self-exclusion terms. In the survey, 471 users said they were still gambling in one way or another.
GamStop is a national self-exclusion scheme that allows players to voluntarily take temporary breaks from gambling products offered by UK casino operators. However, the scheme is only enforced on online gambling websites, so players can still bet in person (via land-based casinos). Moreover, no regulation prohibits players from using offshore websites where GamStop isn’t available, which provides a means around the scheme.
Gambling on UK Sites While on GamStop
The new survey revealed that some players can still bet on UK casinos despite being actively registered on GamStop. According to the report, this is due to various workarounds that the scheme cannot cover.
However, the report failed to mention the specific loopholes in fear of publicising such information to players on exclusion who might be tempted to continue gambling. As noted by the report, the workarounds are a big blow to the GamStop scheme but don’t signify failure. There’s simply nothing GamStop can do to prevent players determined to continue betting despite voluntarily signing up for self-exclusion.
Players who continue to gamble while on self-exclusion use offshore operators. The number is roughly 10% of all GamStop registered players, based on the survey’s sample. Offshore operators refer to all online casinos and sportsbooks licensed outside the UK, including sites from Curacao, Malta, Alderney, Gibraltar, etc. These operators aren’t obliged to participate in GamStop or comply with any regulation from the UKGC.
As an example, following websites inside non-GamStop betting lists figured out that many UK players registered in GamStop by accident and now it is the only option for them. In addition, those casinos not on GamStop offer promotions better than UK sites. Moreover, they don’t need to perform any mandatory ID verifications to determine where the player is logging in from.
GamStop players have an easy time finding offshore sites, thanks to the surplus of online casinos worldwide. Coupled with VPNs and the fact that UK punters can play wherever they want, there’s little the commission can do to prevent offshore gambling. The rise of non-GamStop gambling sites leaves players with several offers whenever they have the urge to bet. Offshore operators also feature attractive promotions, top-rated games, 24/7 customer support and convenient payment methods. This makes it easy for anyone with a smartphone to start playing instantly regardless of their geographical location. However, not all offshore sites are safe or reliable, and none is designed with the UK punter in mind, which leaves players vulnerable to unfavourable practices.
Is GamStop Effective?
10% of GamStop players still gambling online using offshore websites that cooperate with different regulators. Some players have also found ways around the scheme, meaning they can sign-up on UK-licensed casinos and continue playing despite being on self-exclusion. This is because players can falsify information during registration on GamStop and gambling websites. What’s more, GamStop players are free to walk into any land-based casino in the UK to continue betting since the scheme is only for online operators. However, despite the workarounds, GamStop is one of the effective solutions for UK players. If anything, many players with a genuine gambling problem and intention to exclude have benefited from the scheme.
According to the survey respondents, GamStop has brought about significant improvements in various aspects of life. More than two-thirds of the respondents asserted that GamStop had delivered what they were looking for. Some of the benefits include:
- Financial Control – Players on GamStop can save more finances since they no longer have access to their trusted online casinos and are reluctant to explore non-UK platforms.
- Social Wellbeing – Many GamStop players report improvements in social life since they can spend more time with friends and family without worrying about losing a bet. This, in turn, results in quality relationships.
- Self-Restraint – GamStop offers players an opportunity to exercise self-restraint from gambling products for at least six months. Those who follow through without seeking ways around the scheme can regain control to manage their gambling hobby without the adverse effects.
Despite the benefits, about 10% of GamStop players reported that the scheme didn’t deliver what they wanted. Some only wanted to take temporary breaks, many of whom advocate for shorter self-exclusion terms. Others did not get the results they wanted because of the gaps in the scheme. Nonetheless, since its establishment, GamStop has achieved tremendous success, and countries like Sweden and Denmark have even introduced equivalent schemes for operators in their jurisdictions. Swedish players can use SpelPaus, while those in Denmark have ROFUS. Both block access to nationally licensed casinos, just like GamStop, albeit in different jurisdictions.
GamStop players still have access to betting opportunities online and offline, and 10% are taking advantage of this position to continue betting despite active registration on self-exclusion. It’s no surprise since gambling is addictive and requires more than a single scheme to address.
There might be other new restrictions that all gambling operators have to follow in the near future. Players determined to quit all forms of betting can register on GamStop, SENSE (for UK land-based casinos), and game blockers like Gamban, Gamblock, Betfilter, BetBlocker, NetNanny, etc. Using support forums like GamCare and Gambling Anonymous can also reinforce the will to self-exclude.