Gambling can be great fun and something that millions of people in the UK do every year, either as a hobby, a way to spice up a favourite sport or event, or simply as an attempt to get the better of the bookies and win some cash. However, whilst the majority of people gamble well within their financial means and in a way that does not cause undue stress or concern to themselves or their friends and family, there can be no doubting the fact that gambling is a problem for some people.
In the same way that alcohol can be great fun when enjoyed responsibly but can certainly cause terrible suffering when misused, gambling can be a double-edged sword. A study by NHS Digital in 2018 found that there were around 280,000 people in England classed as problem gamblers. England has a population of approximately 56m and so that is a small proportion (around 0.5%) of the whole. But even so, the impact of the issue can be devastating.
What Is GAMSTOP?
These days, bookies, online casinos and other gambling operators take responsible gambling more seriously than ever before and they offer a range of tools to help people stay in control. One of the very best options for people who are really struggling is Gamstop (usually styled as GAMSTOP, which is how we will refer to it from now). The official GAMSTOP website provides links to a range of support services for anyone who thinks they may have a problem with gambling or is concerned about a friend, relative or partner.
However, the core of their offering is a register that allows you to self-exclude from all gambling sites in one simple action. Individual bookmakers, casinos, poker sites, bingo sites and the various other forms of online gambling companies that exist all offer a range of options to have a cooling-off period, to self-exclude or to permanently close your account. However, these are all specific to the site in question. Using GAMSTOP makes the whole process a lot quicker and easier for those with multiple accounts. In addition, it also removes the possibility of joining any new bookies (or casinos, or other gambling sites).
How Does GAMSTOP Work?
Unsurprisingly, GAMSTOP is very simple to use and if you have decided that it is for you, you should be able to get your exclusion in place almost straight away (though it may take some time to become fully activated, up to 24 hours). Just visit the site and head to the register section.
Here you will need to fill in some personal details, including the following:
- Current and past addresses including full post code
- Date of birth
- Current and past email addresses
- Current and past mobile telephone numbers
GAMSTOP will work best if you can provide as much information as possible as it is imperative that your exclusion works properly but equally important that you do not inadvertently cause someone with the same name to be excluded! It only takes a few minutes to complete your GAMSTOP registration but you may need to upload a selfie alongside a photo ID and this then needs to be verified. Again, this is to ensure that GAMSTOP is only used as a self-help tool and cannot be used by a third party to exclude someone without them knowing or against their wishes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Assuming you provide the requested information and upload any documents required, the whole thing should be fully active within little more than a day. GAMSTOP really is an excellent tool if you have tried other ways to stay in control of your gambling.
Now we will provide answers to any questions you may have about the service but if you have any queries that we have not covered, note that GAMSTOP has a live chat facility and staff are very helpful and not in any way judgemental or critical.
Q. How long does GAMSTOP last?
When you register you can choose between a period of six months, one year or five years. Note that this is the minimum period and you will not be able to access gambling sites again until you contact GAMSTOP and request the ending of your registration.
Q. What sites does GAMSTOP cover?
GAMSTOP covers all online betting and gambling companies that are licensed in Great Britain by the UKGC. You can also see a full list of all companies/sites covered by GAMSTOP.
Q. Can anyone register with GAMSTOP?
GAMSTOP is only available to “consumers resident within the United Kingdom (Great Britain and Northern Ireland)” as it is a UK-based and focussed scheme.
Q. Does GAMSTOP become active immediately?
Once you have completed all the required information it may take up to 24 hours to be wholly active across all sites. If you are concerned about gambling in this period tell someone close to you what is happening so they can try and help.
Q. If I join GAMSTOP can I still access my betting accounts?
No, once you have committed to registering you will not be able to login to your accounts. You should consider this fact if you have any funds in accounts, pending bets or part-finished promotions.
Q. What happens to funds and pending bets if I join GAMSTOP?
GAMSTOP themselves take no responsibility for returning funds to you. However, the sites that have joined the scheme are required to return any withdrawable funds to you when you sign up. That should also include any as yet unsettled bets that go on to win, however, you may need to contact sites directly to make sure that all funds are returned.
Q. Can I cancel my GAMSTOP registration?
For fairly obvious reasons you cannot end your registration before the minimum period you requested has elapsed. Once that exclusion period has passed you can contact GAMSTOP to request they end your registration and this process may take a short time to process.
Q. Do I have to update my details?
To ensure your exclusion works as efficiently as possible you should update GAMSTOP should any of your key information change. This may include a change of name, address or email address and can be done easily by email, webchat or telephone.
Q. Can the scheme by by-passed?
GAMSTOP has helped thousands of people regain control of their gambling, helped many people quit and saved lots of people lots of money. However, it is simply a tool to help a person help themselves. If people do not give full and proper information when they register it will be less effective.
Equally, if someone is committed to bypassing it, using any means possible, including ones that operate in legal grey areas, there is very little anyone can do to stop this from happening. So, in short, GAMSTOP is not a 100% guaranteed block on all gambling but it is a massive help in stopping someone betting online.
Q. Does GAMSTOP work in betting shops, casinos, bingo halls and other bricks and mortar establishments?
No, GAMSTOP applies to online operators only.
Q. Does it stop mobile gambling?
Yes, GAMSTOP prevents all online gambling with UKGC-registered operators and that applies however you try and access a site, be that via desktop, laptop, mobile or tablet.
Q. Will I still receive offers and marketing communication from sites?
You should not receive any marketing material via any medium once you have registered with the scheme. It is possible that some emails, letters or texts may slip through the net, especially if these have been sent before your request was processed. However, after the first week or so you should hopefully receive no such communications.
Q. How do I make a complaint if I do still receive offers or have access to my accounts?
In the unfortunate event of you still receiving unwanted emails or even having access to your accounts you should contact GAMSTOP immediately by email, phone or live chat. They can then investigate and rectify the issue. You can also contact the UKGC to notify them of any non-compliant casinos or other related concerns.