Over the last five years, online gambling has become the rage among UK adult residents. They truly seem to enjoy having the opportunity to stay at home and wager on sports or play their favourite online casino games.
Given the proliferation of online gambling activity in the UK, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) rightfully decided to step in and take measures to help combat potential gambling problems.
After all, it was fair for them to assume that more online gamblers would naturally result in more UK residents with gambling addiction.
It’s important to note that the UKGC has been assigned the responsibility to regulate all of the UK’s gambling activities, both retail and online.
Introducing The Gamstop Self-exclusion Program
The medicine the UKGC chose to combat the potential increase in countrywide online gambling problems was the GamStop Self-exclusion program.
The UKGC helped innovate the program in 2018, subsequently (2020) making it mandatory for the country’s licensed online gambling operators to subscribe and provide easy access to the program.
GamStop is available to online gamblers who feel they need help with staying away from their online gambling activities in sort of a “cooling off period.”
Registration for participation in the program is voluntary while also allowing gamblers to determine the length of their self-exclusions.
The program has largely been a success but not full proof. Since membership in the program is limited to licensed online operators, motivated UK online gamblers still have viable ways to gamble online even after registering with the GamStop scheme.
One of the available options is using the UK licensed and unlicensed online operators that aren’t subscribed to GamStop nor can they access the GamStop database of blocked gamblers.
How big is the hole left by these non-GamStop sportsbooks and casinos? According to the NonGamStopOdds, some non GamStop operators even go so far as to market directly to GamStop-blocked gamblers.
How Gamstop Works On The Backend
The GamStop backend operates based on Application Program Interface (API) protocols. For the most part, the GamStop program works through its integration with the software platforms put forth by online gambling operators.
Each of these platforms has a registration process and sign-on process that requires customers to enter personal information.
When existing or potential customers enter certain information, the API protocol requires that entered information first be sent to GamStop for comparison with the GamStop database.
If any of a particular customer’s information matches what is in the database, that customer will be denied access to an existing account or the ability to open a new account.
If no information matches are evident, the customer is allowed to move forward.
Why The Uk’s iGaming Businesses Use Gamstop
The success of the GamStop scheme is dependent on the participation of as many UK online gambling operators as possible.
With that in mind, one has to imagine for a moment exactly what kind of motivation a UK online gambling operator would have to subscribe to GamStop.
After all, subscribers have to pay a substantial fee in order to have access to the GamStop database.
As we stated above, the UKGC mandates full participation in GamStop by any online gambling operator that is licensed by the regulator. The UKGC leverages licences as a way to ensure participation in the program.
In fact, the penalties for non-participation by licensed UK iGaming businesses could include significant fines and or the suspension or loss of a license. While this is likely the primary reason iGaming businesses will abide by the UKGC’s mandate, there are other reasons they might choose to use GamStop.
Marketing As A Responsible Gambling Resource
UK gamblers often prefer gambling through iGaming businesses that indicate a responsible and fair approach towards their online gamblers.
With that as motivation, a lot of the UK’s top online gambling operators will market their affiliation with GamStop as an indication that they want UK gamblers to have the ability to protect themselves.
They want gamblers to have the ability to protect themselves should their gambling activities start getting out of control.
The Program Works
It’s easy to take the position that the UK’s iGaming community as a whole cares very little about its customers. In other words, they want the money regardless of whether or not customers suffer horrible consequences because of problem gambling issues.
The reality is most prudent operators understand that far too many addicted online gamblers becoming public knowledge would be bad for business across the board.
GamStop works quite well as long as registered UK gamblers are willing to abide by the very terms and conditions that they set forth themselves. Operators like that the program works so well because it represents that the operator cares enough to offer easy access to a quality solution for gamblers who are headed for trouble.
The Only Truly Viable Responsible Gambling Resource
If GamStop had never been innovated, the only way that iGaming businesses could help their problem gamblers would be to recommend “website blockers” like Net Nanny and GamBan.
While these types of software solutions work, they don’t provide the same level of protection that GamStop offers. Here are the issues.
Website blockers are often controlled by the gamblers themselves. They download such programs for a few dollars, activate them, and deny themselves access to any website that can be identified as offering any kind of gambling content.
In the case of GamBan and other software products, the ban is permanent and cannot be reversed. Unfortunately, most of these website blockers are device-specific.
In other words, they only work on the device upon which they were downloaded. If a motivated online gambler really wants to gamble, doing so is as easy as simply finding another device upon which they can continue their gambling activities.
UK iGaming businesses use GamStop for four reasons: it’s mandated by the UKGC, it represents a responsible approach toward customers, the program works, and it’s the only viable option for the optimum protection against problem gambling issues.