Gamstop has long been renowned for helping problem gamblers. After launching in 2018, it has since become a part of all UK online casino sites. In fact, the UK Gambling Commission has made it mandatory for all its licensees to be a part of the program. However, data surrounding the number of players who regret joining Gamstop have come to light over the last month, and the program itself deserves a closer look.
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The Usual Gamstop Exclusion Period
Ordinarily, a problem gambler will sign up to Gamstop, and then be excluded for a period ranging from 6 months up to 5 years (it is up to them) from any online casinos or betting sites which are part of the program. Officially, there is no real way to exit the exclusion period that Gamstop offers once you are signed up. However, following the COVID-19 pandemic, Gamstop has reported some worrying data concerning the number of players trying to exit the program early, and this has caused a split in opinion on the charity.
How Many People Request Early Release?
Gamstop previously attracted 7,000 new registrations per month. During the lockdown, this has dropped by 300 to 6,700 on average. However, in the week before the lockdown, Gamstop received 600 requests from players wishing to exit the program. These were usually granted because the self-exclusion period had expired. This increased to 800 during the first week of the lockdown. Later in the month, it was reported that up to 1,000 players were seeking an early release from Gamstop.
By comparison, throughout the lockdown period, up to 665 players per month who were eligible to be released from the program decided to extend their self-exclusion period by the minimum amount of six months.
What Does This Mean?
In short, opinion on Gamstop by the players it caters to is polarised. On the one hand, you have roughly 665 players a month who are eager to renew their self-exclusion period, keen to ensure that they don’t fall back into a dangerous habit. However, at the same time, there are over 1,000 players a month right now who believe that they have made a mistake and want out of the program.
Gamstop alleges that the thousand people wishing to exit the program is proof that the UK Gambling Commission is not doing enough to help players to protect themselves. They also claim that the 665 renewals showcase that Gamstop is a driving force in helping problem gamblers. That may not be the case, though.
Could It Mean Something Else?
Gamstop’s own opinion on the matter is naturally biased. This is a gambling charity, after all. One of the biggest criticisms of Gamstop is from players who didn’t really know what they were doing when they signed up and concerns the inflexible nature of the bans. While Gamstop’s exclusion periods naturally have to be non-negotiable (they wouldn’t work otherwise), there is a sense of anger that the anti-gambling charity isn’t clear enough about what self-exclusion means. This could highlight the increase in people wanting early release from the program.
The silver lining here is that many online casinos now have their own self-exclusion and responsible gaming programs in place. This could represent the ideal way for players who wish to take a breather to do so, without finding themselves locked out of every UK online casino.