An examination of tools available for self-exclusion in online gambling

What is Self-Exclusion?

Self-exclusion – in this context of online gambling, refers to one’s own exclusion out of gambling activity. This is, in essence, a means to prevent gambling activity, when it may have crossed the threshold of being a mere source of casual pleasure, onto (possibly) becoming an uncontrollable addiction.

Tools for Self-Exclusion in Online Gambling

There are many tools available for appropriate self-exclusion in online gambling. We look at some of them in this section.

HSBC

Yes, the world’s local bank – although it prefers to be recognised today as a bank where ‘Together We Thrive’, has its own self-exclusion tool for online gambling, in the UK.

It is easy to activate this feature, whether in-person at an HSBC branch, over the phone, or online; irrespective of the method used, self-exclusion for gambling activity on the said HSBC account is activated instantly.

Charities like GambleAware and GamCare both played a key role in HSBC taking a decisive step to roll out this self-exclusion tool.

Other Banks

Other banks in the UK are also following suit in their endeavour to set-up self-exclusion tools for online gambling.

Instances include Starling Bank, Monzo Online Bank, and Barclays to name a few. Starling Bank was in fact a pioneer, among major banks in the UK, of self-exclusion tools vis-à-vis a dedicated gambling blocker. Alongside, Barclays Bank has put in place a series of measures to assist gamblers going overboard on their online gambling sprees.

GAMSTOP

A Non Profit by the name of ‘The National Online Self-Exclusion Scheme Limited’ runs GAMSTOP whose raison d’être or “reason for existence” is to help online gamblers put a stop to their gambling efforts – which may well and truly have gone out of hand.

Available only to UK residents, the best part about GAMSTOP is that it is completely FREE of COST. A few basic details such as your email address, your date of birth, and your postcode is all it takes to sign up with GAMSTOP.

Once successfully signed up, you will be self-excluded from gambling websites and apps that are licensed to operate in the UK, for periods ranging from 6 months to a year, all the way up to 5 years.

Gamstop Casinos

Suffice it to say that as things stand at the moment, pretty much all UK-licensed online casinos are on Gamstop. This is largely to do with regulations put in place by the UK Gambling Commission which compels all online casinos licensed to operate in the UK, to compulsorily sign up with Gamstop.

Non Gamstop Casinos

The corollary of all UK-licensed online casinos being on Gamstop would be that non-UK licensed online gambling venues would (at least should!) not be on Gamstop.

Well, that is exactly the case. In most instances, you will find them licensed in places like Cyprus, Malta or Curacao. Such casinos not registered with Gamstop and are able operate in many different country.

The positive point to note here – from the perspective of gamblers in the UK, is that there are ample options at hand wherein Gamstop would have no bearing.

Instances of such casinos include:

  • Lord of the Spins Casino
  • Casino Napoli
  • Club Lounge Casino
  • All Wins Casino
  • Stay Lucky Casino
  • Cherry Gold Casino
  • Vegas Wild Casino
  • Golden Axe Casino
  • Eclipse Casino
  • Madame Chance Casino

Of course, this list is by no means exhaustive!

Once we exclude casinos licensed to operate in the UK, we effectively have all casinos licensed anywhere outside the UK to be available to UK gamblers to place their bets on, outside the purview of Gamstop.

Micro transactions – do they promote online gambling?

From a neutral and objective perspective, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that micro transactions do end up promoting online gambling.

They may not do so directly; but rather, from gamblers’ perspective, they end up facilitating the likelihood to gamble, which may not otherwise be feasible in the absence of such micro transactions.

There are adequate instances to indicate that this is indeed the case.

Here is a prominent example where a 19 year-old ended up spending as much as $13,500, that too on regular mobile games like The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-Earth, Age of Warring Empire, and Clash of Clans, all through micro transactions. Eventually, seeking therapy proved to be the only way out of his addiction.

Insight from Forbes also points towards micro transactions playing a key role in the extent to which gamblers are likely to wager; with many games not having any initial costs to be incurred upfront, players tend to join them by the droves.

Yet, after doing so, there are aspects such as “levels” within these games, which cannot be progressed upon, unless small payments viz. micro transactions are incurred. In other instances, there is no compulsion to pay any amount at all. At the same time, the entire gaming experience is enriched once such small payments or micro transactions are made. Pokémon Go with its Poke coins is an apt example – which many gamers have opted for.

A report from a data analysis company by the name of Third Party Collections Inc. further ratifies beliefs around micro transactions promoting online gambling. The company managed to breach security firewalls and ultimately gain access to credit card details of gamers across multiple platforms – and found that every single user without exception had ended up defaulting on their credit card payments!

Other Self Exclusion Tools for Online Gambling

At the outset, we mentioned HSBC and other banks in the UK that offer self-exclusion tools for online gambling. Of course, these are not the only tools on offer; there are others as well.

Self-Discipline

There is probably no other tool as powerful as restraint and self-discipline. After all, even if you exclude yourself from all online casinos on GAMSTOP, there will be non-UK casinos you will have easy access to.

In such instances, self-discipline is really the most potent tool at your disposition.

No doubt, this is easier said than done but once you have the will from within, your urge to gamble might come down significantly.

Towards this end, do not hesitate to seek help from friends and family members. Depending on the gravity of the situation, you can also consider opting for counselling.

Time-outs

Both physical casinos – as well as online ones, offer the provision of time-outs where once a certain threshold has been crossed, gamers can no longer continue playing.

Make sure that you opt-in for such time-outs if they are voluntary. In some cases, they might even be enforced such that you will have to go in for them anyway.

Monetary Limits

While being akin to time-outs, the difference lies in the fact that you can wager only up to a certain level monetarily; otherwise, there is no restraint on you to continue playing. So, if the monetary threshold has been crossed, you can always continue playing any free games, but you won’t be able to place any monetary bets or make financial transactions.

Many gamblers have particularly found this to be a useful tool in their endeavour to self-exclude themselves from online gambling, even if momentarily.