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Sometimes, we all need a little break from gambling. It’s estimated that any time, 350,000 people across the UK are suffering from a gambling addiction. The first step to quitting is often the hardest, and that’s where GAMSTOP comes in. Read on to find out more about the self-exclusion platform that fights gambling issues in the UK.
What is GAMSTOP?
GAMSTOP is a UK self-exclusion platform for people suffering from a gambling addiction. It was launched back in April 2018 to allow addicts to ban themselves from online gambling platforms. Gamblers simply register online and choose how long they want to be banned for. The platform is free to use and is available for those based in the UK only.
Anyone who is looking to limit their gambling or is struggling from a lack of self-control is able to find help through GAMSTOP. Once you are registered with the scheme, you are no longer able to access UK online betting sites or sign up for new online gambling accounts.
Who runs GAMSTOP?
GAMSTOP is run by not-for-profit organisation, The National Online Self-Exclusion Scheme Limited. The project is funded by the UK online gambling industry. The small GAMSTOP headquarters is located in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.
What is the difference between GAMSTOP and self-exclusion from an individual site?
As of March 31, 2020, all UK online gambling operators are required to sign up to GAMSTOP. This means that gamblers who register with the scheme are automatically blocked from using all UK-registered sites until their time limit is up.
If a gambler is to self-exclude from just one individual site, it can be much harder to fight the urge to play a plethora of online games that are just a click away.
GAMSTOP is a one-stop self-exclusion platform which blocks you from all UK licensed sites, whether you hold an account with them or not. It’s a great first step to stopping online gambling activity.
How to apply for GAMSTOP
It only takes a matter of minutes to apply for the GAMSTOP self-exclusion scheme and get the ball rolling. Here’s how to do it:
- Visit the GAMSTOP website and click the ‘Get Started’ button. From there, you’ll be provided with information on the scheme and how it works.
- Enter your personal details as prompted – this will include your name, postcode, date of birth, and email address to verify your identity.
- Answer the short questions GAMSTOP asks on your gambling behaviour.
- You’ll be officially enrolled on the GAMSTOP scheme. It can take up to 24 hours to activate your self-exclusion application.
You will then be excluded from all UK online gambling sites for a period of 6 months, 1 year, or 5 years depending on the option you choose. Once registered, the self-exclusion period cannot be cut short.
You’ll need to return to GAMSTOP and ask for the exclusion to be removed once the minimum duration period is over. Make sure to update your GAMSTOP information if you move to a new address or change your name.
Does it really work?
There’s been some debate in the past surrounding how effective GAMSTOP really is, but in general, it’s a very good tool that is continuously improving. The scheme makes clear that it should be used as an aid to help manage addiction and is not intended to function as a replacement for willpower. GAMSTOP also admits it is not foolproof but is always working to better the platform.
It’s worth noting that the self-exclusion scheme only applies to UK licensed websites, and gambling advertisements can still follow you around when browsing online. Gamblers have to sign up themselves, it cannot be done by a friend or family member. While the platform isn’t bulletproof, it definitely helps to remove the temptation of online gambling.
Problem gambling in the UK
Problem gambling is becoming an increasingly large public health issue in the UK. While risk-taking is part of human nature, it can quickly become dangerous when gambling is involved. Around 1% of the UK population is said to be affected by problem gambling. Addicts are five times more likely to be male than female, more likely to be unemployed than working, and are most likely to be between 25 and 34 years of age (males).
According to the UK Gambling Commission, UK gamblers collectively lost around £14.4 billion between March 2018 and 19. The number of gambling-related hospital admissions has doubled over the last six years, with more people seeking help than ever before. The UK is experiencing so much demand that there are now plans in place to open another 14 problem gambling clinics by 2024.
Other options for problem gamblers
While GAMSTOP is a great place to start, there’s an indefinite amount of resources out there for gambling addicts in the UK. Here’s just a few of them:
Download an adblocker and unsubscribe
GAMSTOP is not able to block all gambling advertisements from reaching your screen, and certainly can’t unsubscribe you from email lists. To help reduce the number of gambling ads you see when going about your day, install an adblocker onto your computer.
Once you’ve done that, it’s also a good idea to unsubscribe from any gambling mailing lists you’re signed up to. Make sure to remove gambling pages and accounts from your social media, too. The fewer ads you see, the better you’ll recover.
If you also gamble offline (or think you’ll be drawn to casinos after self-excluding), consider banning yourself from visiting them. SENSE (Self-Enrolment National Self Exclusion) is a great scheme designed for people to self-exclude from all land-based casinos across the UK.
Make sure to delete any gambling apps you have on your phone or tablet as soon as you’ve self-excluded.
The National Gambling Helpline is a completely free and confidential line for anyone worried about their own gambling, or someone else’s gambling. It can be accessed via telephone on 08088020133, or online at GamCare.org.uk. The Helpline can also organise free face to face or online counselling.