The UK gambling industry saw a boom in new users and companies over the last decade as new technology and faster internet connections brought sports and casino gambling into living rooms and mobile devices across the land. For most punters, this is a harmless hobby and just one of the multiple outlets for discretionary spending, but for others it can be a damaging pursuit. With the UKGC clamping down on the industry, non-GamStop casinos have exploited the gap in the market for UK punters seeking a return to more gambling freedom.
In this article we will discuss the latest regulation from the UKGC and how the GamStop scheme has emerged to protect problem gamblers.
Who Are the UKGC?
The UK Gambling Commission exist to license and regulate the people and businesses that provide gambling services to consumers in the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland.
With its headquarters in Birmingham, England, the group oversees the conduct of individuals and operations, but also provide mediation for complaints and dispute resolution. With the rise of gambling products and easy online payment methods, the group have had to step up and take a more aggressive approach to the industry in recent years.
The efforts of the commission include restrictions on the gaming companies and their ability to market their services to the UK public.
How Does GamStop Work?
GamStop is a voluntary self-exclusion scheme provided by the UKGC in collaboration with a non-profit organisation. UK gamblers can sign up for free and request a blanket ban from UK gambling websites and apps run by the British gaming companies, for a term of their choosing, which can be for a period of up to five years.
The GamStop exclusion cannot be ended prematurely, and this can be a beneficial scheme for those who struggle with the psychological element of gambling.
UK consumers are required to provide their current and former addresses, alongside email addresses which would have been used to sign up for UK betting sites and GamStop will then enforce the exclusion.
Other Resources for Problem Gambling Help
There are other resources available to UK consumers in the battle against problem gambling. One of those is the Gamban scheme, which is a private for-profit organisation. The company has its own software, which blocks all gambling apps from mobile devices and PCs. A 7-day free trial is offered, whilst the service can be applied by partners or family of problem gamblers.
GamCare is an information service and is the UK’s leading provider of free information, advice and support for anyone affected by gambling issues. The service uses a phone number and live chat for advice, but also gives access to group chats and forums.
BeGambleAware is a similar site for support and confidential advice and it is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
GamStop Sites vs Casinos Not on GamStop
The GamStop scheme is applied in the United Kingdom, but the UKGC has no ability to regulate the activities of non-UK casinos and many British punters have found themselves drawn to the sites not on GamStop.
According to non-gamstop-casinos.com the key reason for punters seeking an alternative for their gambling is the ability to bet without restrictions. In their efforts to stamp out problem gambling in the UK, the UKGC has encroached further into the actual gameplay. Examples of this have been seen with the high-profile efforts by government to reduce the bet size on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs). Other restrictions include spin timers and limitations on payments methods, with a recent decision to ban credit card deposits at UK sites. This is a fair move in an effort to avoid problem gamblers betting beyond their means, but for the average punter, it means that they cannot use a credit card to separate transactions from their everyday account spending.
The key risk with casinos not on GamStop is that problem gamblers often believe that they fall into the category of being a casual bettor and will often seek out sites overseas as a way to get around exclusions at home.
The UKGC offers a superior regulatory regime for consumers in the UK, especially when it comes to dispute resolution and other consumer protections. European sites still have their own regulatory bodies, such as the Malta Gaming Authority, but the rights of UK citizens are limited. In recent years, South America has emerged as a destination for gaming sites and it offers a lighter touch regulatory system. The UKGC stops these sites from marketing directly to UK consumers, but they are still easy to find on online forums and Google searches.
Our Conclusion on Non-GamStop Casinos
Experienced gamblers who are not enjoying the increased UKGC restrictions will find that non-UK casinos offer more freedom and privacy in their online gambling, however the sites can also offer a welcome mat to those who can’t control their gaming habits.
Gambling should always be used for entertainment and consumers should be aware of the responsible gambling messages and the support available in the UK.
The UK Gambling Commission has taken a tough stance on the industry but the effects of problem gambling are well documented in the UK with suicides, marital breakups and other long-term problems being common.
The families and friends of gamblers who have experienced problem gambling, or are showing signs of a potential problem, should be aware of non-UK casinos, but also the support available to stop the problem as early as possible. The UKGC and GamStop are taking measures to protect punters from the psychological pitfalls of gambling, but there are measures available to take action closer to home.
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