The Guardian, in their latest clumsy crusade against the gambling industry, reported on Sunday that the UK Gambling Commission was planning to make it compulsory for bookmakers, online casinos and betting sites to sign up for the Gamstop campaign, which allows punters to self-exclude themselves when they feel their betting is getting out of hand.
But in an exclusive interview with the Gambling Insider trade magazine, the Commission confirmed that they had not given the proposed scheme the green light as of yet.
It had been reported in The Guardian that problem gamblers could essentially block themselves from all UK betting websites in one go via Gamstop, and that all firms would have to sign up to the campaign in order to have their licences renewed.
But Ben Glass, the communications manager at the UK Gambling Commission, told Gambling Insider:
“Gamstop will be a helpful additional tool for users, and it is important to get it right. Gamstop is working towards providing us with the necessary assurances to allow us to trigger the requirement for all operators to become members.
“We cannot bring the condition into force until that information has been received, considered and taken to our board for a decision on commencement.
“Our board would also decide on the length of the implementation period, but there will be at least four weeks between notification of license commencement and the condition coming into force.”
The Merits, and Issues, of Gamstop
When the Gambling Act 2005 was brought into power, the world was a very different place.
Smartphones and tablets were still in their infancy, and so the average punter hadn’t really come to terms with using unrestricted apps on their chosen devices.
Since then, online betting has exploded in popularity, and there are many in the industry who feel that new regulation needs to be brought in to redress the balance.
And that, in essence, is where Gamstop was born. It’s a scheme said to be backed by ‘around 99%’ of gambling operators on UK shores, although as we know it has not been formally recognised by the UK Gambling Commission.
There are flaws in the system too, with some investigations suggesting that it is possible to get around any self-imposed bans by fair means and foul.
The other concern is that, so far at least, Gamstop has not synchronised its data with the marketing mailing lists of betting firms. So, an individual may have self-excluded via Gamstop and yet still be receiving emails and text messages with promotional odds and free bet offers inside them.
How to Self-Exclude from Betting Sites
If you feel like you have a problem gambling habit, or want to seek help before a situation worsens, the good news is that plenty of help is available.
The GamCare website is a good starting point. It contains stacks of information, as well as links to contact their support team via email or via a free UK helpline.
There’s also the Gamblers Anonymous service, while the NHS runs the National problem Gambling Clinic.
The BeGambleAware website is also a fantastic resource if you want to learn more about the help that is available in a no pressure environment.