Investigation finds flaws in GamStop self-exclusion scheme

An investigation by the BBC has found significant flaws in the UK’s national gambling self-exclusion scheme, GamStop, which allowed users to continue gambling despite having excluded via the scheme.


The investigation was conducted and reported on by BBC Radio 5 Live. © Pexels.

Simply by changing their user details, an individual who had already self-excluded via GamStop was able to resume gambling, a BBC Radio 5 Live investigation found.

Fiona Palmer, GamStop CEO, has said she is “deeply concerned” by the news, and that the service was clearly not functioning as effectively as it should.

GamStop was launched last year as the one-stop shop for gamblers to exclude themselves from multiple gambling operators, rather than having to do so individually at each operator. Since the launch, more than 50,000 people have signed up to the service.

Developed by the Remote Gambling Association (RGA), many operators voluntarily participated in the scheme from its soft launch in April. Participation will eventually be made an official licensing condition for operators in the UK by the Gambling Commission.

The Gambling Commission has reacted to the news with further calls for stricter ID checks to ensure the system cannot be cheated. The results of an unassociated consultation are soon to be published and stronger ID verification measures should prevent failings like this occurring. A spokesperson for the Commission said:

We will shortly announce the outcome of a consultation on ID verification and if our proposals are implemented later this year, gambling businesses will have to prevent customers gambling using incorrect details. GamStop is also still in its testing phase and is working on improvements. All self-exclusion systems need to be as effective as possible to protect consumers and once we are satisfied with the scheme we’ll expect all operators to take part.Statement, The UK Gambling Commission

The Commission had already warned of potential failings in the system way back in May 2018.

Serious failings have also been seen at the UK’s retail-level self-exclusion scheme, the Multi-Operator Self Exclusion Scheme (MOSES). A separate investigation last year by the BBC found that a journalist who had self-excluded himself from 20 betting shops was still able to bet at 16 of them a year later.

The Senet Group, who run the MOSES scheme, have expressed disappointment with those findings, but stated that the scheme is just one step in a gamblers’ journey towards truly taking control of their problem.

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