The Number of Searches for GAMSTOP Reaches All-time High
The number of Google searches for the self-exclusion scheme GAMSTOP has reached an all-time high. Figures from Google Trends show a constant increase for the service since the turn of 2020 with peak levels on the 25th of April.
Experts believe that the steady increase in search volumes is related to the rise in casino gambling online with many sports bettors turning to this vertical due to the lack of sports events taking place globally. Another explanation for the surge of numbers is a change in the rules regarding the licensing of operators.
Since the 31st of March, it became a mandatory requirement for all UK licensed operators to participate in the GAMSTOP scheme. This new change will have led to many operators searching out the scheme in order to comply with regulations. The Gambling Commission rules that GAMSTOP must be offered will have also increased the public’s awareness of the product.
Two companies have already fallen foul of these new regulations as sports betting firms Dynamic Bets and Sportito had their licences suspended for failing to integrate with GAMSTOP fully. Although Sportito did have their licence reinstated after complying with the rules.
Sportito CEO Riccardo Mittiga explained that the licence suspension had only been In effect for a short period of time due to a “minor technical integration issue” with the GAMSTOP scheme. Mittiga added that “It was promptly solved once GAMSTOP reported it to us. We are fully committed to the GAMSTOP programme and to following the UKGC directives to protect all customers”.
The CEO of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), Neil McArthur, said the suspensions showed that the regulator was “ready and willing” to use its powers to protect consumers.
While the number of searches for GAMSTOP has increased, so has the number of people contacting the self-exclusion scheme seeking to end their voluntary self-exclusion periods from online gambling sites early due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Participants are unable to leave the scheme early for their own protection, but this trend has worried GAMSTOP CEO Fiona Palmer who has urged individuals concerned about their gambling during the Covid-19 pandemic to voluntarily self-exclude from all UK gambling sites. Saying:
We are concerned that, at a time when so many people are being forced to stay at home during the coronavirus, vulnerable consumers who may have an issue with their gambling might be tempted to spend money they do not have on online gambling.– Fiona Palmer, GAMSTOP CEO
The GAMSTOP CEO said that the current strategy is to encourage problem gamblers to sign up for the service now rather than them waiting until the lockdown is over.
GAMSTOP is operated by a, not for profit organisation called The National Online Self-Exclusion Scheme Limited and over 130,000 people have signed up for the free service. Launched in 2018, consumers can self-exclude for six months, one year or five years.
GAMSTOP state that 73% of users opt for the five-year exclusion. Out of the users who choose the six months or one year option, 90% of them do not re-register with bookmakers at the end of this period, keeping the self-exclusion automatically active.