Is GamStop Effective?

GamStop is an independent program that was first initiated in 2016 by the National Online Self Exclusion Scheme Limited(NOSES). Since then a lot of international bodies like the European Gaming And Betting Association or even banks like HSBC and Monzo have taken up the onus for better functioning of the program.  

GamStop software provides self-exclusion plans for people suffering from addictive gambling. It is estimated that a lumping sum of 430,000 people in the UK has developed the habit of compulsive gambling, which further explains the inception of many such gambling blocker software such as Betfilter, Netnanny, Gamblock which block your mobile and laptop devices from accessing gambling sites.

Independent Research on GamStop Effectiveness

Conceptualized in 2016, GamStop has been a blessing for gambling addicts. The software was, however, made accessible to the public in 2018. 

The program focuses on the concept of self-exclusion. By using this, one can effectively restrict themselves from signing up and playing at casinos and sports betting sites registered under the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC). The time stipulation for exclusion could range from six months and could move up to a year or even five years. This comes off as a measure for all those addicts who find it impossible to keep their hands off and ultimately end up accessing gambling websites. Players could, however, access non GamStop casinos provided by and registered under offshore licensing agencies such as Malta Gaming Authority, Gambling Commission of Great Britain, Government of Gibraltar, Costa Rica gaming License, Antigua and Barbuda gaming license.

Independent research conducted on the user satisfaction level hints at the effectiveness of GamStop. The following data are based on a study conducted on 200,000 consumers of GamStop

  • It was seen that around 84% of the individuals suffering from gambling addiction reported that they feel much more at ease and confident, with a reduced level of anxiety after enrolling in the self-exclusion scheme.
  • Around 77% of those individuals suffering from addictive gambling reported that they had a better grip on their personal finances and the risks associated with draining their money down the casino are no longer a problem.
  • 80% of those surveyed individuals reported having reached the desired outcome on controlling their addiction.
  • About 63% of those people reported having improved relationships with their friends and family. 
  • Almost half of the surveyed consumers demanded a longer period of self-exclusion, that is to increase the maximum exclusion period to ten to twenty years or even a lifetime. Although the self-exclusion plan can be renewed anytime before or after the expiry of the ongoing plan. One can easily keep renewing till the time he or she is over the addiction.
  • Many people also asked to update the database of GamStop to include unlicensed gambling sites, and crypto casino sites so as to be more effective, as punters often use such websites to get around GamStop block.
  • Suggestions were also made on controlling gambling advertisements, as they often trigger the urge of gambling in the victims of addictive gambling. For controlling these advertisements boards like the Advertising Standards Authority have laid down certain norms for such advertisements in 2018. They have applauded regulatory bodies such as the Betting and gambling council (BGC) which protects the youth from getting influenced by Gambling-related Ads on prime-time Television and social media channels.

What Needs to Be Done Further?

Yes, it cannot be stressed with full conviction that GamStop offers a solution that is completely free from any shortcomings. This was an initiative that was solely taken in order to help gambling addicts with their struggles. For example, there were associations known as the Gamblers Anonymous formed in 1957 and Gordon Moody Association established in 1971 which helps struggling gambling addicts through talk-forums and residential treatments. Similar forums and additional effort from the International communities are of the essence. Consumers have always been very vocal about ways to improve their GamStop experience.  

  • These include an extension of self-exclusion plans and restrictions over Gambling advertisements and unlicensed gambling sites. As mentioned earlier, self-exclusion could be extended by renewing or reactivating a plan and boards are working towards controlling the gambling stimulation by advertisements. 
  • GamStop should work on restricting different ways that allow a punter to get around the block. Few ways people try to get around a block are using VPN, gambling in unlicensed sites that are not registered in GamStop database, and using crypto “no registration” sites, or gambling at offshore casinos. 
  • GamStop should find a way to increase its supervisory perimeter to restrict such alternatives too.

Concluding Thoughts

The effectiveness of the self-exclusion plans of GamStop is undeniable, though it does have some flaws like any such scheme. While GamStop has continuously improved its coverage and collaboration with international parties to provide better service,  casinos and bookmakers have managed to find loopholes that exploit the principles of self-exclusion.