The UKGC and GamStop – Protecting You from Non-GamStop Casinos
The UK gambling scene saw huge growth over the last decade as new technologies and faster internet speeds brought gambling into the comfort of homes and mobile devices across the land. For most users, gambling is a harmless distraction and one of many outlets for discretionary income spending, but for others it can be damaging. Non-GamStop casinos have exploited the growing rules enforced by the UKGC to combat problem gamblers and have enticed UK punters away from domestic sites into a world of light regulation and little consumer protection.
In this article we will describe the recent activities of the UKGC and the role of the GamStop scheme in protecting problem gamblers.
Who Are the UKGC?
The UK Gambling Commission are the gaming authority responsible for the UK industry, and they license and regulate people and businesses that provide gambling activities in the country.
Headquartered in Birmingham, England, the group are responsible for overseeing the conduct of individuals and operations, but they also offer mediation for complaints and disputes. After an exponential rise in the number of gambling outlets, with easy online payments, the group have been forced to step up its efforts to police the industry.
The work of the UKGC includes regulating the ability of companies to market gambling services to the public.
GamStop is a non-profit self-exclusion scheme in collaboration with the UKGC. Gamblers in the UK can sign up to the service for free and ask for a blanket ban from all gambling websites and apps provided by British gaming companies. The ban will extend for the period of their choosing, which can be up to five years.
The exclusion scheme also cannot be reversed early, and this can be a beneficial scheme for those who struggle to control the psychological issues of gambling. Gamblers are vulnerable during a losing streak when the urge to win back losses can be strong. Many gamblers are alos in denial of their true profit & loss situation.
New users of the GamStop scheme willbe asked to provide their current and former addresses, alongside the email addresses which they used to sign up for betting sites in the country and GamStop will do the rest.
There are other resources available for UK consumers to assist in the fight against problem gambling. One of those is Gamban, which is similar to GamStop, but is for-profit organisation. Gamban will block all gambling apps on mobile devices and PCs. A 7-day free trial is offered, and the product can also be applied by partners or family, which is helpful for those affected by a spouse or family member.
GamCare is the UK’s leading provider of free information, advice and support for anyone affected by gambling addiction. The service runs a phone number and live chat for advice, but also gives access to group chats and online forums.
BeGambleAware is a similar site for confidential support and advice and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The GamStop scheme is available across the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, but the UKGC has no ability to regulate the activities of non-UK casinos and British punters are still free to sign up for sites not on GamStop.
The reason that many are doing so is to find more freedom in their betting experience. In its efforts to stamp out problem gambling in the country, the UKGC has also employed restrictions on gameplay. Examples of this are the high-profile efforts to reduce the bet size on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs). Other restrictions include spin timers, and a recent ban on using credit cards at UK sites. This can be restrictive for those who like to separate betting transactions from daily expenses to avoid stigma when dealing with banks.
This has obvious benefits for problem gamblers, but it also punishes those who are more comfortable in their gambling habits. The risk with the heavy-handed approach is that problem gamblers often believe that they fall into the latter category and may seek out the sites overseas as a loophole.
The UKGC offers a superior regulatory regime for those in the UK, especially when it comes to dispute resolution and consumer protection. The non-GamStop sites in European countries are the next best destination due to their adherence to EU money laundering and customer protection. Bodies such as the Malta Gaming Authority will follow a high standard of KYC regulations and other measures. In recent years, however, South America has emerged as a growing destination for gaming sites and these will offer a lighter touch regulatory system. The UKGC doesn’t allow these sites to market directly to UK consumers, but they are easily found via online forums and Google searches.
It is also perfectly legal for UK punters to use these sites as it comes down to free consumer choices, but they should not be seen as an opportunity to get around the UKGC and GamStop rules. Visit here for more information on non-UK casinos.
Experienced gamblers may find the UKGC measures have become too restrictive and the non-UK casinos will be enticing as they offer more freedom and privacy in their gaming, however the sites can also welcome those who have less control over their gaming habits.
Gambling should always be seen as fun and be used for entertainment purposes, with consumers aware of responsible gambling and the support available. The UKGC has taken a hardline approach to the industry in recent years, but this is due to pressure from governments and mental health groups. The effects of problem gambling are well documented in the UK with suicides, marital breakups and other pitfalls being commonplace.
The family and friends of gamblers who have been hit by problem gambling or are seeing signs of a potential problem down the road, should be aware of non-UK casinos. They can be used as a loophole around the GamStop scheme and the UK Gambling Commission are your line of defense against them.
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