GamStop is a free service in the UK that “lets you put controls in place to restrict your online gambling activities.” In this article we will explain what GamStop is, how it works and its pros & cons.
What is GamStop?
GamStop is a free, independent self-exclusion scheme for people with online gambling problems. It was launched in 2019 and is operated by a not for profit organisation called The National Online Self-Exclusion Scheme Limited.
Users who sign up to the service can voluntarily ask to be ‘blocked’ by any gambling website that is signed up to the scheme. You can choose how long you want the exclusion to last – either 6 months, 1 year or 5 years. Once everything has been set up, you’ll no longer be able to place bets on any gambling website that participates in the scheme.
GamStop is available to anyone in the United Kingdom.
Which websites are included?
The Gambling Commission eventually wants to make GamStop membership a compulsory requirement for obtaining a gambling licence. In other words, every gambling website and app licensed in the UK will be part of the scheme.
For now, you can find a list of participating companies here.
Will GamStop prevent people from gambling in bookmakers or casinos?
No. GamStop only excludes users from online betting. It doesn’t prevent you from placing bets in physical locations such as bookmakers or casinos.
However there are similar self-exclusion services designed for off-line betting:
- Casino self-exclusion – playingsafe.org.uk
- Arcade self-exclusion – bacta.org.uk
- Bingo self-exclusion – bingo-association.co.uk
- Bookmaker self-exclusion – self-exclusion.co.uk
Will using GamStop affect my credit score?
No. Signing up to GamStop does not affect your credit score. However borrowing money to gamble can have an impact on your credit rating. If you need debt advice, we recommend visiting the Money Advice Service.
What information do you need to sign up?
To sign up with GamStop you will need to provide:
- Your name
- Your postcode
- Your date of birth
- Your email address
If you try to login to a gambling site using any of the details you provided, you will be blocked. It’s important that you tell GamStop if you move to a new address or change your name.
What happens if you change your mind?
Users who have excluded themselves and then changed their minds can ask for the exclusion to be lifted. In order to do so you must contact GamStop directly.
I’m worried about a friend – can I sign them up?
No. You can’t sign somebody up to GamStop on their behalf, but you can help them through the signup process.
Does it really work?
There have been some reports that GamStop’s measures are relatively easy to get around. A BBC investigation found that some excluded users could still open a new account simply by using a different email address or by mis-spelling their last name. In response, the Gambling Commission said it was looking to bring in tougher ID checks.
It’s also worth noting that GamStop only applies to UK websites. Some gamblers have found a loophole in the system by searching for gambling websites with headquarters in other countries. However we strongly advise against this – offshore gambling sites are not regulated by the Gambling Commission and you have no protection if you are treated unfairly.
Another problem is the fact that gambling advertising can still follow you around online even after you have self-excluded. GamStop are currently unable to prevent this, but installing a free ad-blocker on your device can help reduce the amount of gambling advertising you see. here.
How do I sign up?
Get started by visiting gamstop.co.uk/register and following the instructions. After you register, it can take up to 24 hours for the exclusion to take effect.
GamStop isn’t completely bulletproof, but it certainly helps remove some of the temptation to gamble. As they put it on their own website “you’re the only one that can make a success of your self-exclusion.”
If you or somebody you know is struggling with a gambling addiction, you can find a list of support organisations on our support page.