In recent years the UK gambling scene has seen tougher regulations applied by the UK Gambling Commission and punters have been increasingly looking at their options. Non-GamStop casinos are a popular choice for punters to avoid the restrictions, but what are they?
UK-based gamblers are attracted to these sites abroad because they offer limited regulation, without the strict betting limits, fewer bonuses, and limited funding options that we now see at UK sites.
This article will describe the work of the UKGC and GamStop in providing a line of defence against non-UK casinos.
What is the UKGC?
The UK Gambling Commission is headquartered in Birmingham, England and is responsible for regulating the gaming scene in the UK. The country has taken a tough approach to the industry in recent years with a ban on credit card funding, in-game restrictions, and limited ability for companies to market their services. The UKGC regulates Britain and Northern Ireland, with these rules meant to protect problem gamblers.
Compared to other countries, the UK takes a strict approach to gambling rules, with other countries only embracing online gambling rules in recent years. The likes of Malta and Curacao are more light-touch on rules and these are the types of countries welcoming British betting enthusiasts.
The UKGC announced in early-2022 that it would also be working more closely with local authorities in key regions to educate them on problem gambling and oversee their activities.
The UKGC said last year that the “problem gambling rate is statistically stable at 0.4%”. That is a small percentage of users who are experiencing problems, but the regulator faces pressure from governments and social groups to tackle the issue where possible.
How GamStop Works
GamStop is a non-profit organisation that works with the UK Gambling Commission in the United Kingdom only. GamStop operates a self-exclusion scheme where punters can sign up for free, and they will be blocked from using any gambling apps and sites run by British gaming companies. The term of the self-exclusion can be up to five years and is not reversible.
With a huge number of sites available in the United Kingdom, the scheme allows users to set a blanket restriction across the country and halt their betting activities. This can be helpful during times of losses when psychological urges can take over. Customers are required to provide their current and former addresses, alongside any email addresses that they have used to sign up for betting sites in the past.
In February 2021, Gamstop saw a 21% rise in applications from players looking to exclude themselves from gambling. The coronavirus lockdowns found many stuck at home with time on their hands and may have been attracted to gambling more than they normally would.
According to Gamstop’s own statistics, nearly a third of all players registered with the service have attempted to access gambling at some point, so it shows that the urges are still there for punters even after they select to exclude themselves.
Other Resources to Fight Problem Gambling
There are helpful resources available to aid problem gamblers in the United Kingdom and this is only possible if the UKGC makes it an issue. Countries who lack regulation will not flag problem gambling and many will not seek assistance.
Gamban is a similar tool to GamStop, but it is a for-profit company. The app allows gamblers or their families to set up a self-exclusion on tablets, smartphones, and personal computers. TalkBanStop is a partnership that combines support with the GamStop, Gamban, and Gamcare tools to stop gambling and start the recovery journey.
Sites not on GamStop will have self-exclusion, but they will be reversible and not as long as the five years available in the UK.
GamStop Sites Versus Casinos Not on GamStop
It is 100% legal for gamblers in the UK to sign up to non-GamStop casinos and many have done just that. According to non-gamstop-casinos.com, these sites will offer more freedom in the gaming experience and will also offer better welcome rewards and bonuses, which is another element of the UKGC rules. Sites not on GamStop also provide a wider range of funding options, such as credit cards and cryptocurrencies, which the UK casinos have stayed away from due to confusion over financial regulation and taxation.
The downfall of these sites is that they offer limited consumer protection and they can also be used as a loophole for the GamStop rules. Gamblers with experience of problem gambling would be better served within the confines of the UKGC environment. The sites abroad may have limited customer support and may not provide access to English-speaking advisors.
Using overseas casinos that are not regulated by the UKGC would mean that you are betting with a company that will face no penalties if you run into problems with gambling and the UKGC or GamStop would never be informed. Those with previous experience of problem gambling would do better to accept the tighter rules on gameplay for what they are.
The move by the UK Gambling Commission to toughen their rules on problem gambling has seen some UK punters moving to non-GamStop casinos. Customers will find more freedom at these sites, and the environment will feel similar to the UK gambling scene five to ten years ago.
Bet sizing and deposits are free from restrictions at the sites overseas, but there are also more attractive welcome bonuses and rewards. The game libraries in these sites can also be more extensive than the UK sites, which is another drawback of the UK marketing rules. An additional benefit is the ability to use cryptocurrencies and credit cards to fund your account.
Despite these benefits, there is little protection for problem gamblers and those with experience of problems should not use the non-UK casinos as a GamStop loophole. It is better to accept that the UKGC is trying to protect users from themselves, and gamblers would do better under the UKGC umbrella if they have experienced problem gambling before.