January 13, 2019 3 min read


GamStop Self-Exclusion Scheme Flawed, BBC Report Says

  • GamStop self-exclusion scheme found flawed by BBC reporters
  • Fiona Palmer admits system is far from perfect
  • Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) calls the findings disappointing

Gambling self-exclusion schemes in the United Kingdom may not be as infallible as they are advertised to be, amid new reports exposing flaws in the system enabling gamers to find workarounds.

Flaws in UK’s Self-Exclusion Scheme

The United Kingdom is a bastion of gaming. Following the events at the beginning of the 21st century which led to a withdrawal from the US market, the industry found a new home on the island. Today, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is one of the most respected regulatory bodies, running comprehensive analyses and remaining vigilant of the constantly changing iGaming industry in the United Kingdom.

Self-exclusion has been one of the virtues of gaming in the UK. Over 50,000 have signed up for GamStop, the nationwide initiative intended to protect vulnerable gamers. However, a new investigation has discovered that some gamers, even if only a handful, have successfully gamed the system, finding a workaround.

UKGC to Rethink National Responsible Gambling Strategy

The BBC reported about an individual who could still make wagers, even though he had been listed on the GamStop’s watch list. The solution, as it turns out, was as easy as tinkering with one’s account details.

GamStop representative Fiona Palmer admitted that the system was far from perfect, acknowledging the breaches in the overall offer. The report successfully elicited a response from the UKGC which said that tougher ID checks will be demanded from NGOs and operators alike.

The United Kingdom’s Trusted GamStop Compromised

In theory, GamStop works. In fact, it has been largely successful despite the newly-surfaced evidence about omissions in the overall offer. According to BBC Radio 5 Live, gamers who have been excluded from gaming found their way back to the bookmakers and casinos.

One Adam Bradford, a campaigner who supports raising awareness about the inherent dangerous of excessive gambling, has showed how he can game the system by simply adding a new e-mail and changing a single letter in his legal name.

Mr. Bradford’s father, David, was jailed for two years for fraud, having stolen £50,000 from former employer to fuel his gambling habit. The tally for David stood at £100,000 in gambled money by the time Adam managed to intervene.

Adam commented on the development describing it as “scandalous”. Concerns over the flaws in GamStop have been raised before by the same BBC station. In 2017, a Live 5 member, Rob Cave, did a coverage of how he excluded himself from 21 gaming shops but was still able to place wagers in 19 of them.

At the end of 2018, another BBC producer tried a different experiment, excluding himself from 20 properties but ending up being able to place wagers in 15.

The ABB Let Down by the Findings

According to the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB), the findings were “disappointing”. In a previous survey dated 2017, the ABB found out that 83% of gamers reported that self-exclusion schemes have effectively helped them to reduce their engagement with gaming products.

While the findings are serious, the truth is that the majority of gamers seldom try to game the system, despite their desire to return to gambling. Nevertheless, such glaring omissions in the overall security may be something that GamStop wants to address quick.


Simon is a freelance writer who specializes in gambling news and has been an author in the poker/casino scene for 10+ years. He brings valuable knowledge to the team and a different perspective, especially as a casual casino player.

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