GamStop under the spotlight

A month after we reported that GambleAware had commissioned Ipsos MORI to conduct an evaluation of both the online Multi-Operator Self-Exclusion Scheme (GamStop) and the non-remote such schemes, a BBC Radio 5 Live Investigates programme reported that it was possible for someone who had self-excluded from online gambling via GamStop to open a new account with a gambling operator and continue gambling whilst remaining self-excluded.

This could be achieved by the self-excluded person altering minor personal details provided by them when opening a new account, such as misspelling their surname. More details are available on the BBC News website here.

SBC News has reported that GamStop has responded to the BBC’s criticisms by citing the Gambling Commission’s consultation on age and identity verification that ran from September to November last year and saying:

This is of concern to GamStop and we welcome the work that the Gambling Commission is currently undertaking, especially in regard to ensuring that robust verification is carried out by operators when initial registration takes place. With this in place, the specific issue identified in the BBC investigation aired on 13/01/2019 would be addressed.

It has also reported that Jeremy Wright, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has commented in reaction to this news that:

Self-exclusion schemes are essential but must be properly policed and effective to support the individual who has taken the decision to opt out. This is something I will be raising with the industry and Gambling Commission.

This development looks likely to further delay implementation of LCCP social responsibility code provision 3.5.5 that:

  • will come into force one month after notification by the Commission of the establishment of a national online multi-operator self-exclusion scheme and
  • from that time will require all relevant remote gambling operators licensed by the Commission to “participate in the national multi-operator self-exclusion scheme” (i.e. GamStop).

As matters stand, more than 140 operators have registered to participate in GamStop. An up to date list of participating operators can be found here. In November 2018, we reported that 38,000 people had already registered with GamStop to self-exclude from online gambling, but we understand this figure to have increased to more than 50,000 by now.