Number of online gamblers self-excluding increases
The number of people self-excluding themselves from online gambling websites has grown, according to figures released by the UK Gambling Commission.
The Gambling Commission’s industry statistics document, released last week, showed that online gambling companies had more than one million requests from users to cancel their accounts in 2016. This was almost double the figure from 2015.
Self-exclusion has long been an option for users of online gambling websites. However, operators have come under criticism about the functioning of self-exclusion, with some customers finding it difficult to complete the process, while some self-exclusions have failed to function at all, with some users able to continue to access their accounts, despite completing the exclusion process.
This has led the UK Gambling Commission to consider more efficient options. The proposal is a UK wide self-exclusion scheme entitled GAMSTOP. The idea is that when a user self-excludes with GAMSTOP, they will in effect cancel their accounts with all the online operators they had an account with. Previously, gamblers would have to self-exclude from each website individually. All operators will be required to comply with the scheme.
GAMSTOP was planned to roll out by the end of the year, but has since been postponed until Spring 2018.
Whether GAMSTOP will go far enough to help curb problem gambling remains to be seen. The Remote Gambling Association (RGA) themselves have admitted that the problem is too complex to be solved by a single means. Clive Hawkswood from the RGA said:
We would never claim that Gamstop in isolation would be sufficient to curb problem gambling. The issue is much more complex than that and will always require a layered approach, but for those who do not feel able to control their gambling it will provide a backstop that will prevent them gambling on any online site that is regulated by the British Gambling Commission so we believe it will be an extremely helpful tool for those who need it.– Clive Hawkswood, Remote Gambling Association chief executive
Online gambling sector growing
The number of self-excluding gamblers came from the UK Gambling Commission’s gambling industry statistics report. The report showed huge growth in online gambling, with the sector growing by 10% to £4.7bn between April 2016 and March 2017. This growth brings with it more responsibility, as the Gambling Commission’s Tim Miller highlighted:
However, with such growth comes a great responsibility for operators to prevent gambling-related harm to all consumers and the public. We would urge all gambling businesses to be acutely aware that as their market grows so too will our focus on ensuring that consumers are protected.– Tim Miller, executive director of the Gambling Commission