Gambling is a massive industry in the UK and across the world. And Schemes like GAMSTOP are becoming an integral part of it. If you are tempted to find Casinos not on GAMSTOP, then read on.
In the UK about 56% of adults gamble in some form or another.
Many do it at online Casinos or Bookmakers.
Problem-gambling is something that threatens the whole
industry, as well as being potentially devastating for the individuals effected
and their families.
Although it only effects a small percentage of gamblers
(1.2% according to figures), it is used in many countries as an excuse to ban gambling
altogether. And there are those in the UK who would like the same thing to happen
Who are the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC)?
The UKGC was set up by the British Government in 2007 to regulate gambling and enforce gaming laws across the UK.
Since 2014 it has been a requirement for Casinos and Online Bookmakers who serve players in the UK to be licensed by the Gambling Commission. Even if the companies themselves are based aboard – and many of them, even High-Street brands, are based in places like Gibraltar and Malta.
The licensing criteria are one of the strictest in the world and they are not shy in fining companies who they feel violate the regulations.
If a company is licensed by the Gambling Commission, it means they have secure banking, fair games and adhere to the UK Laws and Regulations (or pay a heavy price if they don’t).
As a result. the UK has one of the toughest-regulated Gambling industries across the globe. Of course, some countries don’t allow it at all, which is pretty tough.
Because the Internet allows people to access sites anywhere on the planet, there are of course many online Casinos and Sports Betting sites which are not licensed by the Gambling Commission.
We have a list of Online Casinos that are all licensed and we never promote unlicensed sites to UK players.
These unlicensed sites shouldn’t be accepting UK customers, but as you can imagine, some of them may not be too picky where they get their money from.
At Beat the Casinos, our advice is NEVER to play at unlicensed Casinos. Even if they are well-run and trustworthy you can almost guarantee that if you win big, they will suddenly raise the issue that you are a UK customer. Then they won’t pay you for violating their Terms & Conditions..
And, as they aren’t registered with the Gambling Commission, you will have nowhere to turn to for help.
What is GAMSTOP?
GAMSTOP is a free scheme that offers a way to self-exclude yourself from almost all online betting sites who accept UK players.
Self-exclusion is a way for the small percentage of people who cannot control their gambling to ensure they cannot bet. Blocking them from playing and essentially protecting them from themselves.
Gambling addiction is a serious problem that affects around 1.4% of gamblers and self-exclusion is a serious solution that works well for many players.
Choosing to self-exclude with GAMSTOP is an important decision. You are giving away your freedom to choose to bet and identifying yourself as a “problem” gambler to all online betting companies.
It takes a fair amount of bravery to do this and also the self-awareness to realise that you have a problem. There should be no stigma in asking for help with a problem.
One you have registered on GAMSTOP, you will be blocked from playing at any online betting site that you are registered with – within 24 hours.
You will also not be able to sign up with any other betting site that accepts UK customers. They check all their customers with the database provided by GAMSTOP.
This will last for the length of the exclusion period you sign up for. And even when that ends you need to speak to GAMSTOP to have it ended.
You cannot change your mind and you cannot end the exclusion period early. You have given away that right by signing up. No amount of correspondence or complaining will change this.
As I mentioned, it is a serious solution and a decision that must be taken seriously.
Signing up to GAMSTOP is surprisingly easy. You give them your name, email and bank details and they add them to their database.
You choose the duration you want the exclusion to last. 6 months, 12 months or 24 months are the usual choices.
Within 24 hours your existing accounts will be disabled. You should also stop getting marketing emails from these sites too – although this may take a bit longer.
You are agreeing that, no matter what you tell them later, you will not be able to end your exclusion.
GAMSTOP themselves are following their own procedures by making you stick to your exclusion period. The thing that you agreed to.
So no amount of complaining or pleading will get them to “unblock” you.
Similarly, the betting companies have to comply with GAMSTOP or risk massive fines and even losing their Gambling license.
Leo Vegas received a massive fine for just continuing to email excluded customers. Never mind actually allowing them to bet.
So there is no way they are going to let you start betting again. It isn’t worth it for them.
Dangers of circumventing GAMSTOP exclusion
Recent press reports have highlighted how easy it is to circumvent the GAMSTOP exclusion.
Clearly if someone uses a different email address or other details, even a slightly different spelling of their name, then the Betting site’s system will assume they are someone else.
This is fraught with danger for gamblers, however.
Having more than one account with an online Casino or Bookmakers is strictly forbidden in the Terms & Conditions. Essentially, this is to stop those people who want to take advantage of bonuses more than once, but it applies to anyone.
So, if someone is tempted to open a second account with different details, they may fall foul of this. And the most common way to get caught is if they win big and are asked to provide official ID.
This requirement of asking for ID – usually Passport scans and bank statement copies – started a few years back and, again, it is one of the license requirements of the Gambling Commission. It is primarily to combat money-laundering and identity-theft.
But if you have signed up for a second account with the name Alan, when your excluded account is under Alex, then as soon as you provide ID they will find out.
And I guarantee you, they will not pay out your big win. Because, once again, you violated the T’s & C’s of the site, which you agreed to when you signed up.
Why Do Betting Sites Work With GAMSTOP?
I have mentioned that all Casinos and Betting sites comply with GAMSTOPs self-exclusion programme.
But why is this?
If you were cynical, you would say that companies that provide Gambling services would probably want to attract heavy gamblers rather than potentially exclude them.
But there are a couple of reasons why the gambling industry wants to take steps to limit the damage done by problem gambling.
Firstly, there is the purely selfish reason of not wanting the bad PR that might be generated by having customers publicly complaining about losing lots of money with their company.
Or you might feel better thinking that they are just caring about people who have some issues.
Secondly, there is the fact that the Gambling industry in the UK is heavily regulated. You can’t just start a Casino site in the UK. You must be licensed by the UK Gambling Commission.
They have lots of requirements that must be met, and a commitment to responsible gambling is one of them.
This used to mean they had to have clear signage identifying the site as being for adults only and also urging responsible gambling.
Betting sites could choose whether they wanted to participate with GAMSTOP or not.
But, as of January 2019, it is a licence requirement that the sites are part of the GAMSTOP programme.
So, whereas in the past it was possible to find Casinos or Bookmakers sites that weren’t blocked by GAMSTOP, it should not be possible now.
GAMSTOP has a link of all the companies who have signed up with them. As mentioned, by now this should cover all of them.
So anyone who is signed up with GAMSTOP and wants to bet online, may struggle to find an alternative. The danger here is that they are pushed towards betting sites that aren’t licensed or tempted to use fake (or borrowed) details to sign up with.
You should definitely not be tempted to sign up with any unlicensed betting site. Here’s why.
Dangers of using Unlicensed Casinos not on GAMSTOP
Some problem gamblers may be tempted, therefore, to try Casinos which are not blocked by GAMSTOP.
As we have outlined above, this almost certainly means that they are not licensed by the Gambling Commission.
As a result, they may not have secure banking facilities, funding to pay out to customers or even fairly regulated games.
Some even threaten customer apparently!!
To be honest, anyone can set up a gambling website. There are template sites around that are relatively cheap and look pretty slick. But if they wanted a licence they’d need to pay thousands of pounds and provide evidence that everything was above board and run fairly.
Once again, if you were to get a big win at an unlicensed betting site, you might not get a pay-out. Surely that would put anyone off playing at Casinos not on GAMSTOP.
Our advice for any gamblers who have signed up with GAMSTOP and find themselves with an uncontrollable urge to bet, is to maybe try using the DEMO mode that is available at most online Casinos. You can normally play games on “demo mode” without signing in.
It really isn’t worth the risk paying money into an unlicensed betting site.
Gambling activities not covered by GAMSTOP
GAMSTOP is concerned with online gambling. It isn’t linked to exclusion from bookmakers shops, physical Casinos or arcades.
Other organisations like GAMCARE deal with this kind of thing as well as offering a helpline and online support for Gambling Problems.
Of course there are lots of ways that people can gamble nowadays. Lotto tickets, scratch cards, even video games are rife with things like “loot boxes” which have gambling elements in them.
Social games like Coin Master have gambling mechanics too. And even worse, although you can spend real money on their “coins” – you can’t win any real money back.
Recently the world’s most popular Video Game, GTA5, launched an in-game Casino. You buy chips with real money even though you can’t win real money back.
It’s all madness to me.
Cutting gambling out from your life completely might be difficult but at least with GAMSTOP you can remove the temptation to bet online, round-the-clock
Process when GAMSTOP period ends?
You may think that once your GAMSTOP self-exclusion period is up, that everything snaps back to how it was.
That isn’t quite the reality.
Firstly, the self-exclusion doesn’t end automatically. You need to speak to GAMSTOP to get them to remove you from their database.
The main question to ask before ending self-exclusion would be “What has changed since I signed up for it?”
Have you dealt with any underlying issues that might have contributed to a gambling problem? Has the break from gambling online changed your perspective on gambling?
Secondly, the companies you were already with may be reluctant to have you back as a customer. Although this is unusual, there are many stories online of betting sites refusing to unblock customers accounts.
This is most likely just the company being super-careful not to violate any licence requirements. We’ve seen how costly that can be.
You should eventually be able to have existing accounts unblocked and open new ones at different sites if you want.
Be careful not to have two accounts opened with the same Casino or Betting site, as that is against their T’s & C’s and could cause issues further down the line.
As we’ve discussed, GAMSTOP is a vital service for anyone with a problem with online gambling.
Casinos and Betting sites are required by the Gambling Commission to comply with GAMSTOP and using a site that isn’t working with GAMSTOP is a risky business.
Signing up for it is a serious and brave decision. One that cannot be reversed during the length of the self-exclusion period.
You will not be able to convince GAMSTOP or a betting company to reverse your exclusion until it ends. It is too risky for them and potentially costly.
And probably most importantly – do not be tempted to use fake details or unlicensed Casinos while you are excluded. No matter how tempted you are, it is too risky.
I always recommend using free demo slots or other demo games if you are tempted to bet. Most sites offer them without registration and, like a dummy cigarette for smokers, it may be enough to get you past a craving.
The point of this article was to spell out clearly how GAMSTOP works and its positive and negative aspects.
If you are thinking of signing up for GAMSTOP, I hope this article helps you make the right decision.
If you are already signed up, and maybe tempted to “fall off the wagon”, I hope this article helps you keep going.