By the end of March this year, all online gambling operators will have signed up to a new tool called GamStop which allows users to self-exclude from online gambling.
What is GAMSTOP?
GAMSTOP is a multi-operator self-exclusion system. It allows online problem gamblers to register once in order to be excluded from all licensed gambling websites.
CARE first proposed the scheme back in 2017 and we worked with Lord Browne and Jim Shannon MP in bringing amendments to the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act.
At each stage the Government resisted but at the eleventh hour, they offered a compromise to Lord Browne. They wouldn’t change the law but would instead require the Gambling Commission to make provision for GAMSTOP.
That decision will now be implemented, and it is true to say, without CARE taking the initiative, the scheme would not be in operation.
GAMSTOP already making a difference
GAMSTOP is already making a difference, one user said: “This is a massive step in my recovery and has taken away my biggest threat as it is so easy to do online… I am so relieved I can’t even begin to explain and can focus on paying off the huge debt I have acquired without worrying about another online stumble”.
Since GamStop was first launched, more than 111,000 people have signed up. That figure will now increase thanks to the Commission’s decision to require all gambling sites to sign up.
CARE’s Communications Manager, James Mildred said: “GAMSTOP allows users to self-exclude from all online gambling sites in one go which reduces the risks for problem gamblers. Testimonies from users show it is working. The announcement that all operators will have signed up by 31 March is excellent news for problem gamblers. CARE was privileged to play a key role in this tool becoming a reality.”
Progress made, but more to do
There are thought to be 450,000 problem gamblers in the UK, up more than 200,000 since 2017. The average debt per person is £17,500. It’s also an issue for children, with a 2019 Gambling commission Report revealing approximately 55,000 children aged 11-16 are problem gamblers.
The impact of problem gambling is felt by individuals, their families and local communities as well as children. We’ve seen success on FOBTs and GAMSTOP, but there is much more to do. We need to make sure the industry is compelled to act responsibly for the sake of the most vulnerable in our communities.