We’re strong advocates for healthy gambling habits at TopRatedCasinos, but the reality is that gambling can be an addictive and potentially harmful activity to take part in. The industry, led by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), is under continual review to identify and implement new measures to better protect people from problem gambling. Enrolment in GAMSTOP, a self-exclusion tool for online gambling sites, is now a requirement for UKGC licensees, meaning you can block yourself from gambling through a single, central service. Read on for a breakdown of how GAMSTOP works, how to use it, and why the new measures have been introduced.

What is GAMSTOP?

GAMSTOP is a self-exclusion service for the UK gambling industry. The tool enables users to impose a blocker on themselves for all licensed gambling sites and apps through one platform; simply sign up to GAMSTOP and set the amount of time you would like to be excluded for. The UKGC has brought in new regulations that require all licensed casino operators to opt-in to the GAMSTOP service, meaning users can be assured of a blanket blocker across the industry when they sign up. The service is free to use for users within the UK.

How To Register and Use GAMSTOP

Registering for GAMSTOP is a simple process –– all you need to do is head to the registration page and provide your address and postcode, along with previous address postcodes, your date of birth, any email addresses you currently use and have used previously, and any mobile numbers either currently or previously in use. The more details you provide, the more comprehensive GAMSTOP will be when it comes to blocking access to gambling sites and apps. 

Once you’ve provided GAMSTOP with your details, you’ll receive a confirmation email containing information and tools to assist you with your gambling problems. The blocker will take up to 24 hours to take effect, and you’ll then be unable to access licensed gambling sites or apps until the end date you’ve set. While you can’t pick a specific date to regain access, you have a choice of six months, one year, and five years for your self-exclusion’s duration.

Extending Your Self-Exclusion

Once your self-exclusion period ends, GAMSTOP will be in touch to let you know. You’ll have the option to extend your self-exclusion by six months, a year, or five years, as well as the ability to easily reactivate it through your account should you decide to return to the service at a later date.

Regulations and History

When approached healthily and responsibly, online gambling is a pastime that can provide years of entertainment without having a detrimental effect on your life. However, as with any dopamine-firing activity, gambling can be an addictive pastime that can develop into both problem gambling and gambling addiction. The gambling industry is under significant pressure to minimise the likelihood of individuals developing gambling problems, and the UKGC works tirelessly to research, review, and implement measures that better protect players. This work is not only focused on prevention, but also on providing people with the tools to manage their gambling habits.

Self-exclusion is a relatively new tool in the player’s arsenal, and it’s particularly effective for those who feel that gambling is having an intrusive impact on their lives. The UKGC introduced the requirement for licensees to participate in the GAMSTOP initiative from 31st March 2020, securing it as a functional and effective way for players to curb their own gambling habits. The service, which offers a one-stop solution for players to take control of their gambling, is just one in a long line of initiatives that have been delivered in aid of responsible gambling. Licensed sites must, for example, offer internal time and deposit limit settings for players to manage their own playing habits. Meanwhile, Know Your Customer (KYC) checks have been put into practice for both deposits and withdrawals at online gambling sites, preventing underage gambling, blocking fraudsters, and also acting as a means to identify players who have opted for self-exclusion.

Problem Gambling Help

If you or any of your loved ones are exhibiting signs of problem gambling, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. 

Indicators of problem gambling are far-reaching, and include but are not limited to:

  • Becoming preoccupied with gambling –– this can mean thinking about gambling a lot, prioritising gambling over other activities, and/or feeling compelled to gamble during your day-to-day life;
  • Using gambling as a means of emotional management;
  • Increasingly impulsive behaviour, or believing in living for the ‘here and now’
  • The development of intimacy or relationship issues;
  • Continually chasing losses;
  • Subscribing to illusions and biases, such as being ‘due a win’ and falsely believing in being able to affect the chances of winning games of chance through repetition or ritualistic behaviours;
  • Hiding gambling habits from others;
  • Stealing to finance gambling;
  • Displaying poor financial planning, including spending savings to finance gambling habits;
  • Developing mounting debts;
  • Chasing a thrill by gambling larger and larger amounts of money;
  • Becoming irritable or prone to mood swings in the absence of gambling.

No matter what stage an individual’s problem gambling is at––whether they have become fixated on their next flutter or they’ve resorted to stealing in order to continue playing––it’s important to take action as soon as possible. If any of the above indicators apply to you or someone you know, there is plenty of information, help, and treatment available to help you on your way to recovery. 

GAMSTOP is a great first-port-of-call for problem gamblers, enabling you to shut yourself off from the industry to focus on your recovery. Alongside self-exclusion, here are some other organisations that can help:

GambleAware – The charity behind the BeGambleAware campaign is available 24/7 to offer free and confidential help and support for anyone concerned about their own gambling behaviours, or those of someone they know. Its services are provided in partnership with the National Gambling Treatment Service.

NHS – Gambling addiction is a recognised medical condition, and help, support, and treatment are all available through the NHS. The health service’s problem gambling page is a great source of information, and booking an appointment with your GP could be a major step in your road to recovery.

Gamcare – Industrial charity Gamcare is a leading provider of preventative services, self-help resources, and other support materials. The charity operates a 24-hour phone line that’s in operation seven days a week, along with a 24-hour live chat service through its website. Gamcare also operates chat rooms and forums for problem gamblers and other interested parties to discuss their issues and provide support.

UKGC – The UKGC regulates the UK gambling industry, and its site is a font of knowledge for anyone looking for details on how the industry works.

Unlicensed Gambling Sites and Apps

As detailed above, GAMSTOP is a blocker that can be applied to every UKGC-licensed gambling site and app. That, of course, means unlicensed, black market gambling operators are not factored into the blocker, and can still be accessed by users who have opted for self-exclusion.

If you’ve signed up for GAMSTOP and you’re currently blocked from the licensed gambling industry, you must not be tempted to gamble at an unlicensed site instead. Without a licence, the illegal gambling operator is not beholden to regulations enforcing fair games, encrypted transactions, and a wealth of ethical standards that are designed to keep players safe. Not only could you be subject to rigged games, for example, but your personal data and transactions will be ripe for interception by fraudsters. 

You will also find it extremely difficult to raise issues with the operator, as you will not have the regulatory might of the UKGC behind you. It simply is not worth the risk to play at an unlicensed site, regardless of whether you’re a casual player or someone suffering from gambling addiction.

Self-Exclusion Round-Up

  • Self-exclusion blocks you from playing on licensed gambling sites or apps for six months, a year, or five years;
  • GAMSTOP is endorsed by the UKGC and operators must opt-in to the service to qualify for licensing. It’s quick and easy to sign up;
  • Unlicensed sites aren’t blocked by GAMSTOP, but it is extremely important not to view this as an opportunity to subvert your self-exclusion. You’ll be open to rigged games, hacked transactions, and other unethical practices –– simply put, it’s not worth the risk;
  • If you or a loved one need more assistance, we recommend Gamcare, GambleAware, and the NHS, each of which offer valuable information, support, advice, and even treatment for gambling problems.
  • Be sure to check out our guides on Responsible Gambling, Sticking to Your Limits, and our full collection of Before You Play articles to ensure you’re well-prepared to begin gambling safely.