What is GAMSTOP?

GAMSTOP is a free online program that allows those with a gambling problem to self-exclude from all UK operators offering sports betting, casino, bingo, poker, and other gambling options in one go.

Set up in 2014, GAMSTOP covers all UK operators, and from March 2020 it has been mandatory for all UK-licensed firms to sign up to the scheme.

What reasons are there to use GAMSTOP? How does GAMSTOP work?

Addiction to gambling is associated with a wide range of problems, including financial distress, social issues, work troubles, and breakdowns in personal relationships.

GAMSTOP ends the possibility to gamble online and on mobile apps with any UK operator. Those who believe they have a problem with gambling or are developing one, fill in the GAMSTOP self-exclude form. 

They will no longer be able to login to any of their existing accounts or open new ones for a set period. 

GAMSTOP is popular with problem gamblers and those trying to help them as it self-excludes from all UK-licenced operators simultaneously, rather than having to self-exclude from each operator separately.

How long does GAMSTOP last?

The minimum period to self-exclude on GAMSTOP is six months, and the longest-term is five years. 

What are the problems with GAMSTOP?

It doesn’t cover operators not licensed in the UK

GAMSTOP only works across firms licensed in the UK. It doesn’t include firms licensed in the likes of Curacao, for example. Those who want to gamble will be able to get around GAMSTOP and find casinos not on GAMSTOP.

It also doesn’t always stop customers from receiving promotional emails and gambling marketing communications from companies.

And GAMSTOP doesn’t prevent you entering a land-based betting shop or casino to wager money.

It doesn’t differentiate between types of gambling

It is possible to be a responsible poker player, but an undisciplined slots player. Many people can bet responsibly on football every weekend, but struggle to control themselves when they play roulette.

GAMSTOP doesn’t differentiate between different betting verticals, imposing a blanket ban on all of them. 

Circumstances change, but GAMSTOP can be forever

Problem gambling is complicated. Life circumstances change. Perhaps the pressure that was making someone gamble irresponsibly doesn’t exist anymore. 

Maybe someone used GAMSTOP as a quick fix to stop them losing money when they were unemployed, but now regret it as they have a good job and can afford to gamble sensibly.

Using GAMSTOP is permanent – up to five years – and it’s almost impossible to get out of if you want to bet and play with UK firms. When the self-exclusion period ends, players must get approval from GAMSTOP to lift their exclusion. Even then, many operators will still not let you use their services.

As the UK government in particular looks to crack down on the gambling sector, it can be easier for online casinos and sports betting sites to permanently blacklist players who have had problems in the past, rather than giving them another chance. 

What is GamCare?

GamCare is another UK-based organisation set up to help problem gamblers. It offers 24-hour chat options to talk through any problems related to gambling, as well as including a self-assessment form and other resources. 

Unlike GAMSTOP it doesn’t offer or run any self-exclude schemes, although it provides advice on how to do that.

Other ways to control your gambling

  • Set a monthly budget of what you can afford to lose – never go over it
  • Set a weekly time limit – restrict your playing time 
  • Never gamble to win money you need – e.g. betting in the hope you will win your rent 
  • Never gamble to chase losses – if you are on a bad run, stop! 
  • Never gamble if you have been drinking or using drugs
  • Never gamble if you are feeling stressed
  • Unsubscribe from promotional emails, text messages, push notifications, and other comms