Why International Operators Cannot Integrate GamStop
- United Kingdom
One of the byproducts of the COVID19 pandemic was the worldwide explosion of online gaming. With very little to do while locked away at home during the pandemic, millions of people all over the world discovered that playing online casino games and betting sports online (when available) are great ways to pass time.
In the UK, experts estimate that the online gambling market expanded by at least 50% over the last three years. They also estimate this trend is likely to continue in the future due in large part to recent innovations in mobile gaming.
The expansion of online gambling in the UK has become a concern for the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). As the country's top gambling regulatory body, the UKGC is charged with protecting vulnerable UK residents from the potential of gambling addiction. To do that end, the UKGC played a big role in the development of the GamStop Self-exclusion scheme.
What is the GamStop Self-exclusion Program?
The GamStop Self-exclusion program was rolled out in April of 2018. Originally, licensed UK online gambling operators had discretion regarding whether or not to subscribe to the program. All of that changed in 2020 when the UKGC decided the country's exposure to problem gambling issues was becoming unacceptable. At that point, they made operator membership mandatory as a condition of holding a UK online gambling operator's license.
GamStop is set up as a voluntary self-exclusion program for UK online players only. Said players can register for free. At registration, they are required to provide the following information:
- Legal account user names
- email addresses
- Street addresses
- cell phone numbers
- TIN information when appropriate
The intent is for any and all of this database information to be used to identify and block GamStop registered users from accessing licensed UK online casinos and sportsbooks. As part of the registration process, punters are permitted to select their own exclusion period. The options are 6 months, 1 year, or 5 years.
Once a UK online gambler is registered, they are locked into the program until their self-exclusion period ends with no exceptions. While that sounds like great protection for problem gamblers, there is a caveat associated with the GamStop scheme. It only works when players try to access UK gaming sites that have subscribed to the program.
Why is that a problem? Well, it leaves a motivated online gambler, who has a change of heart, about other online gaming options. One of the favorite alternatives for GamStop users is non-GamStop sites that are operating in the UK. Yes, there are online casinos and sportsbooks in the UK that are operating without a UKGC license. That also means they aren't subscribed to the GamStop scheme. Are these alternative sites safe and secure?
Well, analysts at NonGamStopWager have compiled statistics on the many casinos that aren't on GamStop in the UK. What they have found is there are many of them that play fair and have great reputations. That's good news for GamStop users who are willing to accept a little extra risk in order to stick with a UK online gaming operator.
The Overseas Online Gaming Option
While GamStop players are very fond of non-GamStop UK gaming sites, they have also shown a fondness for online casinos and sportsbooks that are operating out of and licensed in other jurisdictions.
It turns out that online gambling operators in other countries have done a lot of catching up with their counterparts in the UK. In fact, many of Europe's favorite online casinos are licensed in countries like Sweden and Spain.
UK online players like these offshore operators because they offer great online gambling content and they seem to really cater to online players from the UK. That seems to be especially true with users who are being blocked by GamStop.
There are two caveats that UK online players might encounter should they choose to take their online iGaming activities to another jurisdiction. First, they might have to subscribe to a good VPN in order to access some offshore sites. Second, they might encounter deposit/withdrawal issues related to credit cards, bank wires, and some eWallet options.
If UK players can find a way around these caveats, there is every reason to believe they will be able to find some very good offshore online gambling alternatives.
Why International Operators Cannot Integrate GamStop
Since GamStop users will choose offshore alternatives to get around their GamStop self-exclusion, it begs the question, "Why aren't these international operators tied to GamStop?"
The answer is quite simple. GamStop was developed by the UKGC exclusively for the benefit of UK online players. In order to subscribe to the program, operators have to first be licensed by the UKGC. If international operators are not licensed in the UK, they can't legally get access to the program.
Note: There is another angle to this that is worth mentioning. Many international operators will intentionally avoid having anything to do with the UKGC and GamStop. Why? International operators tend to be a bit less strict about operator and gambler guidelines. They simply find that the UKGC and GamStop are far too restrictive for their liking.
For now, it's fine that international operators are not permitted to integrate with GamStop. It ensures that UK online players have safe and secure alternatives to UKGC online iGaming sites.
Important: if you have gambling addiction problems - you need to stop playing in any gambling establishments completely.
(Devdiscourse's journalists were not involved in the production of this article. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Devdiscourse and Devdiscourse does not claim any responsibility for the same.)