If you are a GamStop subscriber, you will not access any of the UK gambling sites. Period. Under the decision of March 31, 2020, the UKGC required all local operators to integrate the GamStop service and block any self-excluded player who wanted to resume playing during his cool-off period. In addition, it asks all of its UK gambling sites to educate players about the dangers of gambling addiction and encourage them to sign up for a GamStop if they feel they are unable to control their gambling habits. However, there are many problems and loopholes in the GamStop. Basically, all players who join this service can play at sports betting sites and casinos outside the UK. Practically speaking, no law prohibits participating in offshore casinos.
Although the GamStop programme was launched primarily, to protect vulnerable players from the harmful effects of the problem gambling, it has a lot of negative aspects, but are all British gambling operators integrated with GamStop already?! That is what we will discover in this article.
GamStop Role in Fighting Compulsive Gambling
GamStop is a self-exclusion scheme designed to help players who feel they lose control of their gambling activities, racking up debts due to extravagant spending on casino games and sports betting, jeopardizing their significant relationships, and lose focus while working.
Although gambling activities provide great pleasure to users, they can be addictive for some players. This may affect their life, financial security, close relationships, and other aspects. In other words, players sign up for GamStop to take a break from gambling for a period of their choosing. After their subscription come to an end, players can resume playing.
Once a player has signed up for GamStop they will be put on the ‘blacklist’ of all virtual gambling service operators within the UK; He will not be able to open a new account, log into his existing accounts, make a deposit or request a withdrawal of his winnings. All the player can do is withdraw any funds on his balances only.
The GamStop subscription cannot be cancelled before the end of the cool-off period. Therefore, if you want to play during the self-exclusion period the only solution will be choosing an offshore site. The offshore casinos and sportsbooks are licensed in many jurisdictions like Curaçao, Malta and Alderney. These sites can easily accept excluded players as the UKGC does not license them.
GamStop covers most online casinos and sports betting sites operating in the UK. Although some UK sites still accept excluded players, their licenses will be revoked if this is proven in the UKGC investigations. Thus, all British gambling sites are, at least in theory, are participated in GamStop.
Who Can Use GamStop?
GamStop is intended for people in the UK, meaning that it offers its services for players in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland only. If you are based outside the UK, you will not use GamStop. At the end of 2021, the service announced that it had reached 250,000 subscribers three years after its launch.
The report identified three phases of problem gambling from ‘winning phase ‘, over ‘losing phase ‘, to ‘desperate phase ‘. In practice, these phases will flow into each other.
1. Excessive Gambling – the ‘Winning Phase’
In this phase, the gambler plays regularly or intensively with breaks between. He wins regularly and wants to play more and more because he is very optimistic about his chances of winning.
In this phase, the player doesn’t experience any major problems, but he regularly loses track of time. As for his money, he keeps an eye on his deposits and bets, but he frequently lets himself spend more money than intended. After all, he has ‘everything under control’; The player in this phase doesn’t borrow money that quickly, but he doesn’t dare to use money that was actually intended for something else.
The player here may also start playing alone. After all, his friends could take him out of his ‘concentration’ or ask questions at increasingly higher stakes. Also, the player starts to think more about gambling, especially when he gets bored. Gradually, gambling becomes a fixed value in his life. Unfortunately, he sees himself as an ‘experienced gambler’. Despite that gambling is all about luck and “doesn’t involve experience”.
A few heavy loss moments can ‘shake him up’. However, if he continues to ignore that, he will be a problematic gambler.
2. Problematic Gambling – the ‘Losing Phase’
The player, in this phase, regularly encounter problems because of his gambling behaviour. He suffers for the rest of his life, but he denies and ignores everything! Socially, the player raises many conflicts with his close circle and tries to shut himself off.
Besides feeling tense and gambling more, the most significant symptom of this phase is the financial problems; New loans clear debts. If he has a job, he is now also starting to suffer. It’s hard to concentrate on anything other than gambling.
3. Gambling Addiction – the ‘Desperate Phase’
The player in this phase is now experiencing permanent problems due to his gambling behaviour. Everything has accelerated; His family and close friends now clearly know what is going on. At work, there is a threat of dismissal or he has already been fired.
The mountain of debt is almost unimaginable. His income may be seized by creditors or his house may have to be sold. He can easily be tempted to cheat others, steal money or do criminal things just to get money. Compulsive gambling has taken over his life.
GamStop breaks the vicious circle of gambling addiction by creating “blocks and hurdles” between the vulnerable player and gambling sites. However, this service is certainly not sufficient to address this problem. When the player stops addictive gambling, he will feel withdrawal symptoms, which will make him more nervous, so he should get professional help from a competent charity like GamCare. If a player signs up for GamStop but doesn’t have any addictive tendencies and wants to resume gambling during the exclusion period, he can choose a reliable casino not on GamStop.