The United Kingdom’s online-gambling self-exclusion program, GAMSTOP, has begun accepting consumer registrations.
GAMSTOP, the United Kingdom’s national online-gambling self-exclusion program allowing problem gamblers to block themselves from UK-licensed sites, has begun its rollout. GAMSTOP’s online self-registry, available at www.gamstop.co.uk, allows participating gamblers to exclude themselves for varying lengths of time in what will eventually grow into a universal system for licensed, UK-facing operators.
The “early registration” period at GAMSTOP was activated on April 26, with self-recognized problem gamblers – or those who are against online gambling in general – already giving the system a go. This first phase of GAMSTOP’s rollout will allow those who register to be blocked from all companies who have also registered in advance of the program becoming mandatory later this year.
Participating gamblers will be giving themselves a lengthy timeout; the system provides three options – six months, one year, or five years – and even after that period expires, those registered must manually contact GAMSTOP to have the exclusion lifted.
Seventy-seven companies already onboard
The early registration process will have impact, even before it becomes mandatory. According to a list published by GAMSTOP, 77 licensed operators have already registered and have implemented blocking procedures as mandated by the scheme. The list is already impressive, including Paddy Power, 888 UK, Betfair, PT Entertainment (the TitanBet brand family), Mr Green, BoyleSports, Stars Interactive, and many others.
Early registrants have reported the system to be working, albeit it with glitches. One gambler posting on a casino-based discussion forum reported signing up for a six-month exclusion, then checking his accounts on several sites. The poster found that most of his accounts with participating sites had indeed been blocked, excepting one online slots offering that hadn’t yet done so, for unknown reasons. The gambler also reported being able to continue playing on two other sites not participating in the GAMSTOP program prior to it becoming mandatory later this year.
The service is entirely free for users. All expenses associated with GAMSTOP’s implementation and administration are paid via mandatory fees assessed to UK-licensed operators.
How GAMSTOP works
GAMSTOP accumulates its excluded-player base by having interested gamblers register on its site. After clearing the domain’s landing page, interested parties read about the site’s purpose and function, and are invited to register. “It takes a few minutes to sign up with GAMSTOP. Tell us a few details about yourself, then answer some questions to prove your identity.”
To successfully register, one must provide GAMSTOP with most primary identifying information. That includes the following:
- First name
- Last name
- Date of birth
- Mobile phone number
- Primary email address (other email addresses optional)
- Building name/number
- Address line 1
- Address line 2
- Postcode (prior postcodes optional)
While other sensitive, personal information is not included – banking and tax identifiers, for instance – there may still be enough required information in the process to concern privacy advocates. However, the information requested also appears vital to successfully identifying the person requesting the self-blocking.
“After you sign up,” the site announces, “you’ll receive a single email summarising all the details of your exclusion from gambling. It can take up to 24 hours for your self-exclusion to become effective. After this period, you will be excluded from gambling with online gambling companies licensed in Great Britain.”
Elsewhere on the site, it’s noted that interested parties can only sign up for themselves, and not for others. The extra verification and response steps are part of a process that weeds out false registrations.
Once the registration has been completed, the information goes into a constantly updated database that is accessible to the licensed operators. The operators input registration information for their customers, and if that information matches GAMSTOP’s self-exclusion info on at least four of five key identity markets, the player is blocked from playing on the site. Both existing customers and new players will be subject to the self-exclusion check.
GAMSTOP also notes that self-excluding players have to take steps to not intentionally falsify their registration information, or fail to keep it current.
As GAMSTOP’s site notes, “Once you are registered, it’s important to keep your details up to date by telling us if you move house, change your last name or get a new email address. It is your responsibility to ensure that the details gambling companies hold about you are correct and up to date.
“You’re the only one that can make a success of your self-exclusion,” the reminder concludes, with a pointer to other resources for more support information.