On the surface, Gamstop sounds like a reasonable concept to fight gambling addiction. Those who think they have a gambling problem can register for self-inclusion with any online gaming site in the UK.
But Gamstop would serve gamblers better by simply limiting their weekly wagering consumption. Instead, they force folks to go full on cold turkey. For the vast majority, curtailing one’s activity is often the best solution.
Conventional wisdom assumes that individuals with gambling problems must quit “cold turkey” and abstain from gambling in order to achieve recovery. However, “Pathological Gambling Recovery in the Absence of Abstinence”, published in the journal Addiction, reports on individuals who are recovering from a gambling disorder without abstaining from all gambling activities (Slutske, Piasecki, Blaszczynski, & Martin, 2010).
The conclusion: Ninety per cent of those in the recovery group participated in some form of gambling in the past year. In this general population survey, nearly all the PG recoveries were achieved in the absence of abstinence. Controlled gambling appears to be a popular road to recovery in the community.
But abstinence is the name of the game where Gamstop is concerned. Gambling sites based in the UK and holding a UKGC license mostly have tie-ins to Gamstop. There are, however, a host of casinos not on Gamstop, and proud of it.
The Media’s Role
Gambling is part of the UK society more so than in most countries. Coupled with the nation’s tabloid press, sensationalized stories of gambling addiction typically appear every few weeks, if not days.
The days leading up to Christmas, media outlets reported on how new research showed the number of women gambling in the UK is now at an all-time high, and along with it, so is the number of women facing a gambling addiction.
Marina Smith, programme manager for GamCare, not surprisingly chimed in.
“Based on GamCare and Gambling Commission data, we estimated that only about 1% of women that were experiencing gambling-related harm were receiving help and support.”
Of course with more folks staying home due to pandemic lockdowns, the popularity in online gambling has increased for both sexes.
The Gordon Moody Association has seen a huge uptick in demand since the pandemic, with a rise in women accessing its services.
The Busy Body Spouse
Bingo’s popularity among women is especially huge in recent years. And, yes, there are bingo sites not on GamStop for those with busy body husbands who work to pressure their significant others into giving up their beloved hobby.
Here is just one example of men reaching out to GamStop without their significant other’s knowledge.
My wife is going to bingo 3 times each week, on average she is spending £70 each night. This is having a strain on our relationship, and also our finances. I need help to encourage her to stop gambling before we are in serious financial trouble.
What is this? Dear Abby?
It’s not unusual for wives to be shamed by their hubbies and forced into registering with GamStop.
“I felt so helpless,” a woman by the name of Mina told the Huffington Post. She had maxed out her account and a secret credit card. “My husband wasn’t a professional and couldn’t understand – we would argue because I would promise him that I wouldn’t place another bet and then go and do it again the next day.”
Sometimes You Just Need a Timeout
Again, Gamstop is not for everyone.
A timeout may be necessary for those who believe their gambling is a bit out of control. And Gamstop provides self-exclusion periods of 6 months for those less motivated to go with the oppressive 1 year to 5 year option.
But there is a chance of getting blacklisted, even after the self-inclusion period.
Resuming gambling after the exclusion, one needs to inform Gamstop about their willingness to get access to the online gambling sites. The Gamstop department, thereafter, exercises their sole discretion to make a decision. In other words, there is no guarantee you can access sites other than those not under the influence of Gamstop. Contrary to popular belief, most of these operators will monitor customer behaviour and impose their own limits on those individuals they believe could have a gambling problem.
– Payton O’Brien, Gambling911.com