Does GamStop Cover Offline Betting Shops?
Self-exclusion of players in the UK applies to all major segments of the gambling industry.
21:46 04 January 2022
These include bookmakers, casinos, bingo centres and online gambling. All UK gambling operators are legally entitled to provide a self-exclusion service to their customers as an additional service.
There are more than 23 million players in the UK, and six per cent of them participate in the self-exclusion scheme, which could significantly help problem gamblers in the country and improve the image of the gambling industry.
Last year, fines issued by the UK Gambling Commission reached £18 million, including a £1 million fine for "flaws" in SkyBet's self-exclusion arrangements. The operator allowed 736 excluded customers to open and use accounts, around fifty thousand customers who were themselves excluded received marketing material or push notifications in the app, while a staggering 36,748 excluded customers were not refunded. Money after account closure. Richard Watson, interim chief executive of the UK Gambling Commission, said the fine should "serve as a warning to the entire gambling industry", and perhaps it will.
The government's decision to reduce the maximum bet on fixed-odds terminals to £2 proved that if the UK gambling industry continues to ignore warnings about its failure to protect vulnerable customers, it will upset both the public and politicians. The Gambling Commission will continue:
- close monitoring of its licensees
- increases fines
- revoking licences.
There is currently no single system of self-exclusion across all UK gaming verticals. If someone wants to be banned from bingo halls, they must go to the Bingo Association website. Those who want to be banned from offline casinos should sign up to the SENSE scheme. Online gambling consumers rely on GamStop.
So, if a player decides to ban themselves from one establishment, such as a slot machine hall or betting shop, they must bring an application and copies of documents to the particular hall and go through the self-exclusion process with the help of a member of staff. That is, GamStop does not apply to offline bookmakers. Self-exclusion for land-based betting shops is only available when registering with SENSE.
The national UK online self-exclusion scheme, operating under the GamStop brand, was created in April to "provide a centralised self-exclusion process for UK consumers on behalf of licensed UK online gambling operators".
The need for GamStop has been evident for some time, as there are 280 licensed online gambling operators in the UK, some with multiple websites, all of which previously required separate self-exclusion requests. The introduction of the Single Scheme marks the beginning of a new era for self-exclusion schemes in the UK. There is finally a truly extensive scheme capable of providing support and cooperation to a large number of operators, which should help it function more effectively than previous and existing schemes that failed to do so. But GamStop does not affect non GamStop sports betting sites, as these sites are licensed outside the UK in offshore zones.
Fiona Palmer, chief executive of GamStop, said: "The scheme currently allows individual UK residents to exclude themselves from the large list of licensed operators, and soon all forms of online gambling offered remotely by UK licensed operators, through one website. This means that with a single registration, which takes a few minutes, a user will automatically be locked out of the entire list of operators involved in the scheme. Users register with GamStop via the official website. Once registered, they can choose the length of the self-exclusion period: six months, one year or five years. Their identity is then verified by asking specific questions to which only they know the answer. This stage of the registration process makes it difficult - and fraudulent - to register on someone else's behalf. Once players have passed the identity check, they will be placed on the exclusion list of all participating companies, which is displayed in the footer of the website and is regularly updated as new companies join the scheme. Users will not be able to remove their self-exclusion as long as the minimum withdrawal period from the games is in effect. Once the minimum period of six months has expired, the exclusion will remain in effect until the user returns to GamStop with a request to be removed from the list or until the data retention period expires."
Once a response is received confirming that the person has registered and self-excluded through GamStop, operators must block that person's ability to transact on their sites and remove them from all marketing mailing lists and enquiries. But remember, this does not apply to casinos not on GamStop.
Palmer added: "Extensive qualitative research was carried out during the development of GamStop to understand who would use the scheme and this helped shape the design of the site. The GamStop site was launched to users on 25 April 2018 and is currently running as a multi-operator scheme until the Gambling Commission applies a licensing regulation that will make it mandatory for all UK licensed operators to use it."