How Effective is Gamstop for UK Gamblers? - The Solihull Observer

How Effective is Gamstop for UK Gamblers?

Solihull Editorial 29th Apr, 2024   0

It’s no secret that gambling has become a part of UK culture over the centuries.

In today’s world, the myriad of ways to gamble at physical casinos and online platforms have made the thrill of gambling and sports betting more accessible than ever before.

For the vast majority of players, this offers a great opportunity to enjoy their favourite card, table, or slot game from the palm of their hands. However, as much fun as it can all be, for some players, a little help keeping things regulated never hurts. This is how the GamStop service came about — as a means for vulnerable players to set their own limits. However, many question if it’s really been effective.

Are There Alternatives? 

The short answer is yes. Just as the GamStop initiative has become popular among those it benefits, for other players, platforms that offer an alternative are proving just as popular. According to Gamcare Tradeservices, among UK players, online casinos that offer less or no restrictions at all are steadily growing in popularity. So long as a non-GamStop casino can still offer great bonuses and rewards, is trustworthy and secure, and is independently licensed, players are more than happy to use such platforms instead.

What is GamStop?

The 21st century and its constant advancements in digital technology have seen the online gambling industry grow enormously. Around the world, online casinos have proliferated, with most platforms providing a huge array of casino games. The fact that classic games like poker, blackjack, roulette, and every kind of slot game imaginable can now be played from your own home, for real money, provides the industry’s biggest allure.

However, despite the convenience this all brings, and the practically limitless scope players now have to enjoy their favourite games, all that convenience and choice has proven too much for some players. With some players looking to curb their own playing time and looking for ways to limit which online platforms they can access, such needs gave birth to the GamStop initiative in 2016.

It basically works as a voluntary self-exclusion system. Players who register on it block themselves from being able to access any online casino or gambling site that is listed on the Gamstop service. Players have flexibility with the service and may choose the length and extent of their self-exclusion. In many ways, the service is championed as a good thing and a way for vulnerable players to help foster better habits.

However, the system has also proven to form part of another concern that other players, and the industry at large take issue with.

Gambling Regulations in the UK 

Aside from general gambling being heavily regulated too, online gambling in the UK is governed by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). Backed by legislation, the UKGC regulates everything about online gambling in the UK, including things like age verification, consumer protection, advertising standards, licensing, and fairness. The fact that casinos not on GamStop even still exist is a testament to the fact that regulations are often not as effective as they are intended to be. Such regulations are only half the story, since they often come in addition to the international certifications and independent audits that trusted online casinos also subject themselves to as a way of confirming their security and fairness.

Since online gambling has unfortunately also attracted many unscrupulous actors, a need has also arisen to protect the industry from threats like money laundering. These kinds of issues mean the industry is often held back by further regulations. As a result, the so-called Know Your Customer (KYC) policies have also created onerous registration processes for players.

For any player who prefers a more private or anonymous playing experience, such regulations make it impossible. This is because they require players to provide all of their private information in order to access any online gambling platform that isn’t designated a no-KYC site. Between these and other stringent regulations, players in the UK can often be left feeling stifled and hamstrung from being able to just access and play their favourite casino games.

This is largely also why the GamStop service is not as effective as its supporters want it to be.

How Gamstop is Bypassed 

Since GamStop requires all UKGC-licensed sites to be registered on GamStop, this simply means that any online gambling site not licensed through the UKGC is still accessible to players. This is even true for players who have voluntarily sought to exclude themselves through the GamStop service.

While it’s arguable that such players getting around GamStop so easily are actually just to blame themselves, it does also speak to a pattern of excessive regulation. Often creating tension between businesses and regulators, over-regulation often leads to backlash. In the same way that KYC checks have become a burdensome administrative process, Gamstop is only effective for those who abide by it. Given how many reasons most UK players have to seek less onerous sites, it’s no wonder so many end up playing on offshore sites where there are fewer regulations.

No matter how well-intentioned things like KYC policies and the GamStop service may be, alternatives will always exist. By its very nature, online gambling will always be an industry that’s almost impossible to regulate perfectly. One of the biggest drawbacks is jurisdiction since platforms can be registered in any other country, placing them beyond the laws of local regulators. In such cases, by simply providing what local platforms are stopped from, offshore sites automatically become more appealing to many UK players.

No-KYC casinos, crypto casinos, and non-GamStop casinos are perfect examples. The fact that such categories of online casinos even exist and are constantly growing in popularity speaks to the fact that the regulations that inadvertently give rise to them aren’t as effective as they may seem. There is no doubt that services like GamStop are integral to those they help. However, their effectiveness will always be stunted so long as regulations continue to be seen as barriers to players who don’t need them.




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