Industry charity GambleAware has reaffirmed its support of the nationwide self-exclusion scheme GamStop amid reports that the scheme had been breached by problem gamblers.
Entering 2019, the betting industry got off to a rocky start after BBC five live reports revealed that gamblers registered with the self-exclusion scheme were able to alter details provided at registration, allowing the continuation of gambling activity.
Marc Etches, CEO of GambleAware, emphasised the need for self-exclusion tools to operate without fault: “Self-exclusion can be a last resort for people who are struggling with their gambling, which is why it is essential tools such as GamStop operate effectively.
“Also, blocking software such as Gamban® can be an effective tool to help those at risk of getting into difficulties resist the ubiquitous gambling adverts and special offers that surround us these days.”
He added: “Such tools work best as part of a treatment package tailored to the individual rather than being effective in isolation. If you’re worried about your or a loved ones gambling, there is free help and advice available online at BeGambleAware.org”
This is not the first time that the effectiveness of the self-exclusion scheme has come under political scrutiny, as MPs are now warning that operators are still not doing enough to tackle problem-gambling behaviours.
UK DCMS secretary Jeremy Wright warned of the implications of relaxed schemes: “Self-exclusion schemes are essential but must be properly policed and effective to support the individual who has taken the decision to opt out.
“This is something I will be raising with the industry and Gambling Commission.”
The move comes after controversial amendments to gambling legislation which will result in the reduction to maximum stakes-placed at fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) from £100 to £2, a decision that is intended to combat gambling-related harm.
FOBTs have been a major revenues shared by retailers in recent years, with Gambling Commission statistics suggesting that on average there is £5m per day being wagered on the machines.
Commenting on the decision to cut FOBT stakes, Stephen Timms, Labour MP for East Ham, stated: “A debate in the Commons five years ago exposed the problem. Stakes should have been cut then, and would have been if the Treasury had not been a beneficiary of the racket.”