GamStop Self-exclusion was the brainchild of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). Officials with the UKGC innovated the scheme as a resource problem gamblers could use to protect themselves from issues related to gambling addiction.
The intent of the GamStop scheme is noble. The idea of providing problem gamblers with some kind of protection is the right thing to do. However, there are a lot of GamStop skeptics who feel the program has too many holes to be as effective as it should and could be.
How Does GamStop Work?
To understand where the holes are in the GamStop scheme, one must first understand how the program works.
It starts with the UKGC’s mandate that all UK online gambling operators must subscribe to the GamStop program. After subscribing for a fee, operators can begin accessing the GamStop database. The database is filled with information provided by UK gamblers themselves. This information becomes the basis by which UK licensed casino and sportsbook operators can block a gambler’s access per the gambler’s request.
To get integrated into the GamStop database, all UK online gamblers need to voluntarily register to become part of the database. Once they do that, they benefit from the peace of mind knowing that all licensed UK online gambling operators are required to help gamblers say “no.”
What Happens If a Registered GamStop Changes Their Mind About GamStop Self-Exclusion
The holes in the effectiveness of the GamStop scheme become easily identified when a GamStop gambler has a change of heart. It happens more often than most UKGC officials would like to admit. At issue is the fact that GamStop only encompasses online gambling operators that the UKGC licenses. What the program doesn’t include has become the very alternatives that GamStop registered gamblers turn to when they know that they are locked into their GamStop self-exclusion until their self-prescribed exclusion period ends.
In fact, GamStop gamblers have as many as five or six gambling alternatives they can use until their self-exclusion period ends. Those alternatives include:
- Visiting online casinos and sportsbooks that are regulated in other jurisdictions.
- Opening new UK online gambling accounts under alternative identities (friends and relatives with permission)
- Using the anonymity provided by cryptocurrency transactions to gamblers with crypto-only sites
- Locating online operators that have very weak player verification protocols
- Registering with unlicensed UK operators that aren’t connected to the GamStop database
All of these alternatives have value depending on a particular GamStop gambler’s circumstances. The most interesting of these gaming options is the last one, registering with unlicensed UK operators that aren’t connected to the GamStop database.
Why Do Over 10% of GamStop Users Use Independent Gambling Sites?
When any UK gambler decides to use an unlicensed UK online gambling operator, they do so while accepting a little extra risk. The risk comes from a lack of getting UKGC protection should disputes arise between the casino gambler and one of their online gambling site destinations.
Some experts claim that over 10% of GamStop users will eventually start using standalone casinos like on Casino Wise before their self-exclusion period ends. If that’s true, why is it true?
When Gamstop registered gamblers decide to start gambling online again, they do so knowing they will encounter blocked access from licensed UK online gambling sites. At the same time, many of these experienced online gamblers live with a dying loyalty to operators that are based in the UK, licensed or not.
That brings to mind the question of loyalty on UK gambling sites in general. UK online gambling sites follow a certain flow that is very familiar to experienced UK online gamblers. This familiarity gives UK gamblers comfort, and online gamblers like to feel comfortable when they are gambling with real cash.
Here’s the thing. Taking a little extra risk to use unlicensed online gambling sites makes good sense to many GamStop users because of the alternatives. Some of the other aforementioned GamStop alternatives are just as risky. Plus, GamStop users who change their minds seem to feel gambling with a little extra risk is better than no gambling at all.
The good news is there are plenty of unlicensed non-GamStop casinos and sportsbooks that market and remain available to gamblers trapped by their initial GamStop Self-exclusion.
Why Would UK Online Gambling Operators Avoid UKGC Licensing and GamStop Subscription?
Not registering for an operator’s license with the UKGC is unlawful. So why would so many operators take the risk? Several reasons for not securing a UKGC operator’s license make sense to a growing number of UK online gambling operators. This list includes:
- There is a big demand for UK online gambling services from GamStop-blocked UK online gamblers
- Players want to use PayPal, but it is not available on official UKGC gaming sites
- Smaller operators can’t afford the licensing fees
- A lot of operators object to paying a fee to subscribe to the GamStop scheme
- New operators have not yet gotten around to the licensing process
- Some operators fear licensing denial
Here is the thing everyone needs to understand. Being an unlicensed online gambling operator in the UK is not an indication of the online gambling operator’s legitimacy. Yes, they are a small handful of online gambling operators who operate with the worst intentions. However, most unlicensed UK online gambling operators are quite reputable, responsible, and operator as though they are licensed.
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