The UK is one of the largest and most regulated gambling markets in Europe, producing an annual GGY of £14 billion. According to recent statistics, over 45% of Brits gamble in some way each month. Thus, mental health professionals have recently begun expressing concerns that the habits attained during the 2020 lockdowns may lead to a rise in problem gambling in Britain. Such worries have forced the country’s gaming regulator, the UKGC, to enforce new measures which make the online casino experience less engaging.
In early 2020, the UKGC teamed up with GamStop to curb gambling addiction, but now, this organization has taken a few extra steps to ensure that problem gambling statistics do not get out of hand. What follows below is an analysis of what these changes are, how they affect the UK market in terms of player safety, and why they have increased interest in betting sites not on GamStop.
How Does the UKGC Regulate the British Gaming Market?
The UK Gambling Commission is a non-departmental government body whose inception got mapped out in the Gambling Act of 2005. However, it took two years after that law came into power that this organization took shape and came into existence, replacing Britain’s Gaming Board.
The UKGC’s purpose is to license and regulate all gaming activity in the UK except for free prize competitions and spread betting. It aims to keep the criminal element out of the gambling industry while providing adequate player protection for everyone that chooses to indulge in this pastime.
Residents from other countries in Europe and those living in regions outside of the old continent play at platforms that have attained approval to offer their services globally from an international regulator, such as Panama’s Gaming Control Board or one of Curacao’s four master license holders. These are reputable organizations that implement many of the same security measures as the UKGC but are not as strict and do not offer the same level of player protection.
What Is GamStop & How Does It Work with the UKGC?
In March of 2020, GamStop became a mandatory self-exclusion scheme for all licensed UKGC gambling sites, platforms that now many players refer to as GamStop casinos. In short, GamStop is a self-exclusion network that connects all UK casinos in a single database. Once a player at one UK site decides that he/she cannot control his/her impulses anymore regarding playing games of chance and activates the provided self-exclusion option, he/she can no longer play at any UK casino. Of course, that is until his/her chosen self-exclusion period elapses.
In February of 2021, to combat the suspected rise of problem gambling, the UKGC decided to eliminate auto-play, implement spin timers, and lower bet limits. Though these measures and the inclusion of GamStop have players’ best interests in mind, some find them unfavorable. They undoubtedly slow down the gaming experience, which has caused the search volume for phrases such as non GamStop bingo sites and casinos to swell.
It is paramount that no one sees non GamStop casinos as a loophole to bypass an activated self-exclusion. Looking at top non GamStop casinos in such a light is dangerous and can lead to financial and emotional stress. Therefore, only individuals who can practice proper impulse control should look to play at a non GamStop casino. For such players, these platforms are safe. They allow for anyone to set deposit/loss limits and activate a site-specific self-exclusion option.
Resources That Aim to Lower the Instances of Problem Gambling in the UK
Anyone regular online casino patron that begins to doubt that he/she is starting to develop a compulsion concerning any form of betting should instantly visit the GamCare website and educate themselves on what aid they should seek. GamCare is the UK’s leading support provider concerning gambling addiction. It is an organization that offers a myriad of services, including face-to-face counseling and phone support through the National Gambling Helpline.
Similar British organizations that can help problem gamblers deal with this issue are the Gordon Moody Association, Gamblers Anonymous UK, and The National Centre for Behavioral Addictions.
Those that like to take matters into their hands, and want to try to limit their gameplay using software, should look into GamBan, a free service that has attained endorsements from GamCare and GamStop. It denies its users access to gaming platforms rendering them unable to wager online. Similar applications include BetFilter and BetBlocker. These should also work with non GamStop casinos. An alternative method of action to these software solutions is for players to contact their banks and ask them to ban all gambling-related transactions originating from their bank account.
GamStop Casinos vs. Betting Sites Not on GamStop
No one can argue that international regulators offer superior player protection than the UKGC. Anyone who throws out such statements is spreading misinformation. Nevertheless, despite this fact, some players still desire to test and play at platforms that exist outside the GamStop system. They have such a craving due to the many advantages that these sites offer.
The perks associated with playing at foreign online casinos include access to slots not on GamStop sites, higher wagering limits, niche cryptocurrencies on offer, auto-play functions, and more. Again, those that have a compulsion toward wagering of any kind over the internet should not visit these sites and use them as a tool to feed their gambling addiction. That is irresponsible behavior that can cause a lot of problems down the line.
There is no doubt that Brits like to wager. Such a passion for betting on games of chance and sports has caused problem gambling to have more of a presence in the UK than in other European countries. Thus, UKGC’s response that aims to curb gambling addiction deserves applause. The British gaming industry is trying to adapt to this changing landscape. Operators are also doing their best by helping players view wagering as a strictly entertainment-based activity. No one interested in trying out this hobby should view it as a money-making opportunity because it is not that. Gambling should be fun, and no one should face drastic emotional or financial consequences for partaking in it.