Gamstop, the UK’s online gambling self-blocking system, has seen its ownership transferred from the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) to its own directors. All gambling companies will be told to sign up to Gamstop, developed by the trade body for online casinos and bookmakers, as a condition of their licence to operate in the UK. The Gambling Commission, which controls the industry, is expected to announce the requirement as soon as this week, after satisfying itself that concerns about the scheme’s effectiveness have been dealt with.
In May last year, five months after Gamstop’s unofficial launch, the commission warned the industry trade body, the Remote Gambling Association (RGA), of specific failings in the system.
Board members Jenny Watson, Dr Jo Watts, Kevin Beerling, Roger Parkes and Mike Dixon, who is a new non-executive director. Dixon has been the chief executive of addiction and mental health charity Addaction since May 2017. He previously held the roles of assistant chief executive of Citizens Advice and director of Victim Support, an organisation supporting the victims or witnesses of crime. He will now take ownership of the nonprofit unit, The National Online Self-Exclusion Scheme (NOSES) which runs Gamstop.
New membership will be effective from 26 September, comes more than three years after the Gambling Commission tasked the RGA with the development of a national online gambling self-exclusion service.
Watson, Gamstop’s chairperson, said:
“These changes help to strengthen our independence and I would like to thank the RGA for the constructive nature of our discussions.”
Further he added:
“As we continue to develop, Mike Dixon’s insight and experience will provide the operational team with strong independent challenge.”
In a letter obtained by the Guardian at the time, the commission’s executive director, Tim Miller, said he was “yet to see proper evidence of the effectiveness” of Gamstop. He told the RGA that it was “unacceptable that currently Gamstop does not interact with marketing lists in that way”.
Gamstop is being developed to allow customers to block access to all igaming sites operated by companies signed up to the system by registering on its platform. It is intended to eventually become a mandatory requirement for all Gambling Commission licence holders to integrate with the solution.
GamStop soft-launched in April 2018 – having originally been expected to go live in 2017 – and has since been criticised for flaws in the system that allowed self-excluded players to resume gambling.
In January this year a BBC investigation revealed that players could bypass the system by changing their user details.
Earlier in September the Gambling Commission said further improvements to the online self-exclusion system are needed before it becomes mandatory for all licensees to integrate with the solution.
The Gambling Commission declined to comment on whether it was on the verge of approving Gamstop.
“We have nothing further to announce on this at the moment,” said a spokesperson.