The huge increase in online gambling over the last decade has inevitably left winners and losers in its wake. While some customers enjoy their time at a casino, others have let the pastime become too much of a regular habit. And this has led to issues that naturally need addressing.
In the UK, the government decided to introduce the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), to control the gambling sector. And the UKGC has a say in all aspects of the industry. And its main responsibility is upholding the laws laid out in the 2005 Gambling Act.
A major part of those laws deals with the protection of vulnerable people. And somebody with a gambling problem comes under that area.
Tackling problem gambling
One of the most notable changes of recent years has been the introduction of measures to help those with gambling issues. Several charities and groups were created. And various self-exclusion tactics have been deployed.
Casinos and other gambling sites began to allow players to take more control over their spending. It’s now much easier to put caps on your money. As well as limits on the time you spend playing real-money games.
Another useful tool is the self-block option that most responsible sites offer. You can request that they don’t allow you access to your account for a while. And even though this has proved invaluable for many, it doesn’t stop you from creating a new account elsewhere.
The Gamstop solution
The UKGC backed plans in 2018 to bring in a new service, to make it harder for gamblers to seek casino games at sites in the UK. Gamstop is a self-exclusion tool, but on a huge scale.
All gambling operators in the UK must take part. And there are costly penalties for those who don’t.
It’s a simple system that brings all the operators together. Players who want to take a break from casino games or bingo, for example, can sign up and block themselves from all sites in the UK by registering with Gamstop.
But while the system is more robust than singular exclusion on a site-by-site basis, it does have its flaws.
Pros and cons of Gamstop
Gamstop is free to use. Which is a big plus; as money is a large part of the issue for those seeking help. Plus, Gamstop is effective immediately. Making it one of the fastest-acting methods on the market.
As said, all UK sites come under the exclusion program. So this creates a more streamlined response to the problem. And the system works on a simple sign-up process. So there’s no need to download any programs.
One of the biggest issues with Gamstop is that it’s not a flexible product. You can choose to exclude yourself for 6 months, 1 year or 5 years. And there’s no going back once Gamstop starts.
However, a player might select 5 years, but no longer have an issue before that time is up. And that means that they can no longer play at sites in the UK anymore. But Gamstop does not prevent UK players from visiting non UK based online casinos. And these non Gamstop casino sites have their own benefits, which draw in UK customers regularly.
Open access to casinos not on Gamstop may be seen as a pro or a con. Depending on the person in question.
Alternatives to Gamstop
There are 2 well-known products that function in a similar way to Gamstop. And both have more chances to stop players from accessing casinos not on Gamstop.
They are very similar. So, for most customers, it will be the cost that sways their decision.
Gamban and Betblocker
Gamban and Betblocker are applications that you download to any devices that you may use for gambling. The software blocks sites so they can’t load. And this includes all UK sites as well as non Gamstop casinos too.
But, while they both block casinos not on Gamstop, they do so for very different exclusion periods. Gamban has a choice of 1 month or 1 year. But Betblocker gives a vast array of options between 1 day and 5 years.
Both products have a huge list of gambling sites not on Gamstop. As well as UK sites, too. So there is very little difference between the two, in that respect. But Betblocker will allow customers to flag up a casino not on Gamstop so they can add it to the database.
As mentioned, there is very little difference between the two services in terms of function. But Betblocker is a free product. Whereas Gamban costs £30/year.
Perhaps the solution for those who genuinely need a self-exclusion tool is to sign up with Gamstop and Betblocker at the same time.