GAMSTOP Reports Rise in Self-Exclusion Opt-Out Requests During Lockdown

  • New self-exclusion requests and renewals down slightly in first month of UK lockdown
  • Opt-out requests by users both in and out of self-exclusion terms have increased sharply
  • CEO says data shows how GAMSTOP continues to support vulnerable consumers in lockdown
  • Two-thirds of service users choose maximum five-year self-ban
Hands holding smartphone playing roulette app
Online gambling self-exclusion opt-out requests have increased during the COVID-19 lockdown, according to a recent GAMSTOP report. [Image:]

Slight drop in new GAMSTOP registrations

GAMSTOP, the United Kingdom’s online gambling self-exclusion service, has issued a report on its user data, concentrating on trends during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the UK lockdown having created concerns about problem online gambling as people stay in their homes, new self-exclusion registrations and extensions are actually down slightly. In the month since March 23, the day the lockdown began, this number dropped 4.3%, from 7,000 to 6,700.

Though the minimum self-exclusion term is six months, users often ask that their ban be lifted early. GAMSTOP reports that these early opt-out requests, which are not granted, have increased sharply during the lockdown.

In the first two weeks of the lockdown, GAMSTOP received 400 such requests per week. That figure is now down to 350 per week. Normal volume is 1,000 per month.

Opt-out requests from users whose self-exclusion periods have ended have also risen. In the week before the lockdown, GAMSTOP received about 600 opt-out requests from people who had completed their self-exclusion terms. A week later, the number was up to 800. By the end of April, valid opt-out requests were down to about 700 per week.

GAMSTOP says that the increase during the lockdown was not because more people were home and wanted to gamble online. It believes it’s because the longer the service has been available, the more people have used it and thus become eligible to opt out.

Leadership proud of results

Despite the surge in self-exclusion opt-out requests, the organization sees the numbers as an indication that the system is working.

thousands of new users are choosing to exclude themselves from online gambling”

“Our data shows that GAMSTOP is continuing to provide important support to vulnerable consumers during lockdown and thousands of new users are choosing to exclude themselves from online gambling,” said Fiona Palmer, GAMSTOP’s chief executive.

Palmer stressed that once a user commits to a self-exclusion term, they cannot get out of it before that period has reached its conclusion. The benefit of this, besides the fact that they cannot gamble online, is that it “gives them time to find specialist help and treatment from charities, the NHS, or use other blocking services to protect themselves.”

GAMSTOP mandatory for operators

GAMSTOP is the UK government’s official online gambling self-exclusion service for residents of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The minimum exclusion term is six months, but users can also choose longer terms of one or five years. 67% of users have chosen the five-year period to date.

about 665 users per month ask to add the six-month minimum term onto an existing self-exclusion period

Once the self-ban period has expired, users remain on the exclusion list until they request to be removed. According to GAMSTOP’s report, about 665 users per month ask to add the six-month minimum term onto an existing self-exclusion period.

Those who sign up with GAMSTOP must still contact online gambling sites to be removed from e-mail marketing lists and to receive any funds they have on deposit.

In mid-January, the UK Gambling Commission required all online gaming operators to participate in GAMSTOP by March 31, 2020. Just a few days later, the commission suspended the licenses of two companies for failing to comply. Both got into line quickly and had their suspensions lifted.

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