We’ve probably all been there, from time to time. You get annoyed with something and cancel your subscription, only to find out later that you made a mistake. The same is true for online casino players. You have had a bad day and excluded yourself from all your favourite sites through Gamstop, and now you regret having done so.
Well, the good news is that you can find some decent casinos not blocked by Gamstop, and you can still take a punt on the horses or a cheeky spin on the slots. Obviously, there are unsavoury characters in every industry, so it’s comforting to know that the sites you choose are legitimate ones, and all above-board.
This is why we’ve whipped up this guide. It is meant to help you to figure out which casinos are not listed on Gamstop, but are still on the up and up. The last thing anyone wants is for players to get burned on bad sites.
Gamstop is a software program that allows people to place blocks on certain sites if they feel that their gambling has become problematic for them.
It was launched in 1999, by an organisation called The National Online Self Exclusion Scheme, Ltd. It is a non-profit organisation based in Harrogate in North Yorkshire, England.
In the bad old days of the casino industry, there was really no effort to protect individual gamblers when they became addicted to playing the tables, or slots. It was basically each person for themselves, and the casinos took no part in the discussion. This changed over time, and casinos began to take preventative action against players who showed signs of destructive behaviours.
In casino towns and resorts, the various owners and managers began to collect information about their patrons, in an effort to spot these issues. They then formed a kind of inter-casino knowledge base, and players known to engage in problem gambling would be recognised and barred from taking part.
Eventually, facial recognition software became good enough to detect such gamblers and alert the staff if such a person entered the establishment. The management could then make decisions based on the collected information, about whether to allow or disallow a particular player from placing bets within their casino.
As we all know, the online boom has meant that a vast number of gamblers now prefer to play from the comfort of their own homes, and this has meant that the casinos have had to adapt their practices alongside these changes. This is how Gamstop came to work with the industry in the late 90s.
It’s a partnership. The casino industry is a little like a pub, in this respect. They provide a service, and the vast majority of their clientele engage responsibly in that service. However, it does happen that some folks, for a wide variety of reasons, take things too far. This is why a pub might bar entry to some customers, and it is the very same thing for some casinos.
Nobody wants an individual to harm themselves, and the casino industry is no different in this way. Addictive behaviors are destructive to the person involved, and also to the wider trade. Ultimately, there are no winners when this happens, and so the partnership began between Gamstop and the British-based casino industry.
Are Non-Gamstop Casinos Safe?
The thing is, most of the casinos in the world are not affiliated with Gamstop. It’s a specifically British organisation, and this means it operates largely in this area. In answer to the question of safety, we’d have to say yes.
There are very many casinos around the world that are not blocked by Gamstop, and which are legitimate and safe for gamblers to use if they wish to.
The organisation operates on a very voluntaristic system, which requires an opt-in from the casinos themselves, and a further opt-in from any individual who thinks they are engaged in problematic behaviours. Therefore, for several reasons, there are quite a few casinos that operate outside of the Gamstop structure, just as there are many who operate within it.
The safety of a particular casino is by no means dependent on whether it’s a member of Gamstop, or not. The primary means of telling a safe and reputable establishment from a bad actor is by looking to their licensing and accreditation, rather than to a secondary feature, such as membership to Gamstop.
In terms of regulation and oversight in the UK gambling industry, the big player is the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC). They have announced that all UK-based casinos are to be covered by Gamstop, but as mentioned above, a large number of casinos that operate in the UK are licensed elsewhere.
This means that there are loads of places that aren’t included in the Gamstop list, but which are thoroughly licensed and regulated by a totally different body. Nevertheless, they still maintain all the standards and practices which are stipulated by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) and are very legitimate enterprises.
Now, don’t get us wrong on this. We are not saying there are no baddies out there. There absolutely are, and we want all gamblers to avoid them like the plague. There are going to be unscrupulous agents in every walk of life, and you have to keep your eyes peeled for certain tell-tale signs of a dubious site.
Some places are quick to scoop up the deposit, and they are very slow to process your withdrawals. Others take forever to deal with complaints or avoid communications altogether. Other places have no means of contact at all. These are all the kinds of things to be on the lookout for, and bad practice is a real concern.
But, you see, sites of this type are out there and it has no connection to whether or not they’re affiliated with Gamstop. That’s not what Gamstop is about and they don’t provide that sort of oversight at all. They just provide the industry with an opt-in scheme to combat addictive gambling behaviours.
This means that there are plenty of legitimate sites you can visit, that are not involved in any unfair practices but are unaffiliated with Gamstop. They’re either licensed elsewhere, or based in the EU, or whatever the specific case may be. Gamstop or non-Gamstop, casinos can go either way on this.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Playing on Non-Gamstop Casinos
There are natural advantages and disadvantages to most things in life, and making choices is all about this kind of assessment. The same is of course true of the online gambling world, and so it’s worth knowing these things ahead of time. As with everything else in your daily life, it doesn’t hurt to know more about your choices.
The biggest advantage of using the Gamstop affiliated casino network is that they do exactly what the makers of Gamstop intended them to do. That is, they provide protection for those players who are not fully in control of their gambling. That’s a fact. Some players get ahead of their finances and engage in destructive levels of gambling.
The stated aims and goals of the Gamstop casinos are noble and good, and our serious advice is very simple. If you know yourself to be in this category of player, if you are prone to betting to excess, then our advice is to adhere to the ban you placed on yourself and see out its duration. Once your ban is over, you can contact Gamstop to have it lifted and perhaps pop a wager on your favourite game again.
We are fully on board with Gamstop, as it relates to destructive gambling. The thing is, the net gets cast a little too wide sometimes, and players can very easily place an unnecessary ban on themselves when they’ve had a disappointing night…and then the ban is in effect, and there is absolutely no way of rescinding it once it is in place. That’s a built-in feature of how the thing operates, really.
And so, there’s the rub. The advantage of Gamstop is simultaneously its disadvantage. It provides that safety net for folks who aren’t quite in control of their actions, but that net scoops up quite a bit of by-catch too. It’s a double-edged sword that cuts both ways, and that’s the exact reason we have put together this guide to assist the folks who get caught up when they really shouldn’t be.
Which Licensing Regulators Require Casinos to be on Gamstop?
As part of an initiative called The National Strategy For Reducing Gambling Harms, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) has been partnering with many other institutions to ally them into the overall Gamstop program. These partners include many casinos (both online and physical establishments), many banking and finance groups, and credit providers, and so forth.
To put it basically, the UKGC controls every aspect of the industry within the borders of the United Kingdom. This includes, but is not limited to, all advertising pertaining to games of chance, the National Lottery, casinos (online and otherwise), prize gaming in pubs and clubs, and just about anything else you could think of. All of this falls under the Gambling Act, of April 2005.
They are the primary governing group within the UK, as far as gambling goes, and they require every institution licensed and regulated within the United Kingdom to take part in the Gamstop program. Given the proximity of the UK to continental Europe, there are many complex arrangements between the two regions, and so there are some partnership programs in operation across the channel too.
Obviously, because of that very complexity, not all casinos which operate within the UK fall under the direct remit of the UKGC. Some have engaged in agreements, while a good many have no formal link to the UKGC at all. It’s a very complicated mixed bag effect, when it comes to across-the-channel arrangements, although the commission is working with the industry in multiple ways.
Gamstop isn’t even the only one of its kind, as far as opt-in bans on gambling go. Land-based casinos operate under the National Casino Forum guidelines, and they have instituted a program called Self Enrollment National Self Exclusion scheme, known by the acronym SENSE. This scheme is entirely separate from the Gamstop casinos, and these bodies do not share information on customers. SENSE are non-Gamstop casinos.
Finally, neither Gamstop nor SENSE have any jurisdiction over international casinos, which means licensing based on gaming authorities from overseas regions and domains are quite separate too. A big case in point here is casinos that are granted online eGaming licenses from Curacao. These are well outside the remit of any UK-based authority but are permitted to trade within the UK.
Which Markets Does Gamstop Cover?
In a nutshell, Gamstop casinos cover every betting market owned or licensed within the United Kingdom of Britain and Northern Ireland. That is the agreement reached between the UKGC, and those casinos and market providers which fall under their purview. This means the majority of casinos operating within the UK are included on the Gamstop database, and even smaller pub and club machines are within this bracket.
However, because of long-standing business and economic links between the UK and continental Europe, and elsewhere, there is a sizeable chunk of the online casino industry that isn’t included here. This means that all of the betting markets that they offer are also not listed on any Gamstop database, and cannot be monitored by Gamstop.
Now, this means that most betting market providers are linked to Gamstop. So, if you have had a bad night of it, and for one or another reason you blocked yourself via the Gamstop opt-in scheme, your options are limited somewhat. But, limited is not the same as totally blocked. You still have certain options available to you.
So, Gamstop has a wide influence on the UK gambling scene, which is their stated purpose. They do this very thoroughly but are not everywhere at all times. Another fairly large area in which they don’t operate is in the old-fashioned physical casinos. These casinos have another system in place, called SENSE. It’s also an opt-in scheme with similar aims to Gamstop but is totally separate.
Gamstop & UKGC Relations
Gamstop and the United Kingdom Gambling Commission have had very close relations pretty much since Gamstop appeared on the scene in the late 90s. From the outset, Gamstop realised that they could do very little without getting backing from the regulatory body that governs the whole scene.
They have had very close ties ever since, and both agencies are trying to prevent the problem of gambling addiction in the UK. We all recognise that this problem does exist, and certainly does serious harm to those individuals, and their families. In this respect, we applaud their efforts to provide assistance wherever it is needed, and also praise the casino industry itself for recognising the issue, and acting on this recognition.
With Gamstop, the regulations around casinos have become very tightened, and even signing up to a new casino can be a laborious task. The whole basis of Gamstop is that they gather all your information, and store it all on a database, meaning that the sign-up can take ages. All previous addresses, jobs, favourite sites, income, the amount spent, and all that kind of stuff is stored with Gamstop.
While most of the casinos that aren’t signatories to Gamstop are from overseas companies, there is also something of a loophole in terms of the mobile apps which allow punters to have a bet on the go, so to speak. It’s unclear at the moment exactly what the rules are here, but it seems as if some of these providers are exempt from the UKGC regulations, at least as they are at present.
When Was Gamstop Made
Gamstop was started in 1999. Back in the day, casinos relied on staff to recognise certain problematic persons visually, by looking through a list of banned players and linking this list to folks coming in through the doors. This included players who regularly became drunk and abusive at the bar, players who cheated, and also players who showed signs of serious addictive tendencies, or destructive levels of gambling.
It must have taken very attentive floor managers to keep up with all of that stuff as part of their jobs, but quite recently facial recognition software came in and revolutionised the practice. You could simply take an image, and distribute it across the industry. Then, all the relevant casinos would be immediately informed, the moment that individual turned up at the doors.
Now, there’s a solution for at least one of these problematic behaviours, namely the addicted gambler. For cheating or abusive drunkenness, the physical casinos still rely on a mix of facial recognition, and eagle-eyed floor staff. With Gamstop, the whole idea is to band the regulatory body with the casino industry, to identify and assist individuals who gamble excessively, or destructively.
Insofar as it helps certain people, it’s a fantastic thing. Nobody wants to see or hear about folks who seriously damage their lives through an addiction to gambling, and this is as true of the industry itself as of anyone else. It does damage to the reputations of the various casinos, and is therefore bad for business, down the line.
So, for almost all UK-based companies, the sign-up became mandatory a little while back. This means that all players signing up to a casino must provide all sorts of certified proof of things if that casino is under the rubric of the UKGC and is thus a Gamstop casino. Casinos not blocked by Gamstop have fewer of these hurdles. You just log in as you normally would, and pop in some basic details before you play. That’s it.
The casinos signed up to Gamstop are many of the biggest and most well-known in the British industry, and so they will automatically block any log-in attempt you make if you have excluded yourself. This is true for as long as the self-imposed duration is in effect. There is a 6-month option, going all the way to 5 years. For these partner casinos, you’re unable to log in for that length of time, full stop.
In some cases, the Gamstop partnership may even include your bank. This means that you won’t be able to make deposits at even unaffiliated casinos using your bank card, since it will flag the activity. Some gamblers have found that the best way of getting around this is to use something like a Paysafe card, which you can use at many casinos, and into which you can deposit cash, without hassle.
Paysafe, and other payment options like it, have become very popular because they bypass all the more standard methods. Even companies like PayPal have to be directly connected to your bank, and this can mean they get blocked in certain cases too. Once again, this applies only if your bank is added to the Gamstop casino block. If not, then you shouldn’t have an issue with them.
Another popular payment method to get around your ban involves crypto. Cryptocurrencies have the built-in benefit of anonymity, and the currencies are also welcomed at a whole range of places. If you find a non-affiliated site, you can always transfer using this method, and stay well below the radar. Non-Gamstop casinos based abroad will naturally welcome all ordinary means of payment.
A final payment option hearkens back to the old days. On the list of casinos not on Gamstop are of course the physical casinos, with brick and mortar facilities. For these, you can still simply walk in the front door and present the cashier with good old cash, and receive your tokens and chips in return. That’s a tried and tested choice, and you might even get a little jaunt down memory lane that way. An old-fashioned day out.
How To Get Around Gamstop Self-exclusion
Few ideas on how to get around your self-ban on gamstop casinos
Use a VPN
The first option is to install a Virtual Private Network (VPN) on your device. These are software programs that allow you to mask your online activity, including your IP address. In this way, you can set your location to anywhere in the world, and so you can play at casinos pretty much everywhere. There are some issues with this, however, and it’s not all as plain sailing as it may at first seem.
Playing through a VPN means that you might have issues with making deposits directly from your bank or a credit card. You might find that you can only use a payment card like Paysafe, or similar. Alternatively, you could use a cryptocurrency. Some casinos run software that can detect the use of VPNs, and they can either ban them outright or apply a penalty.
If you decide to play on a UKGC governed site with a VPN, it is even possible that your deposit and any winnings can be seized and likely forfeited. So, while it may seem like an attractive option, you have to have your wits about you and do all the necessary research beforehand so you don’t get burned. In the end, this option can seem a little exhausting to go for, and the minuses sort of swamp the pluses in the end.
Play at 'no verification casino' or a crypto casino
Second, there are the so-called ‘no verification’ casinos online, which will happily accept a deposit via any number of payment options without requiring your details. All fine and well. Until that is, it comes to withdrawing your cash. Quite a few of these ‘no verification’ options will suddenly become rather interested in your details when you choose to withdraw funds, so it’s a good idea to do the research and be cautious here.
Another workaround is the crypto casino. Some casinos that operate largely with Bitcoin and various other cryptocurrencies, and which don’t require very much information when you sign in. However, like the other ‘no verification’ casinos, there is every chance that they suddenly require all this information the moment you decide to withdraw funds, and then you’re stuck again.
Go to traditional land-based casino
Another possible option is to go the old-fashioned route, and walk right into a physical casino. They accept cash and usually don’t require all sorts of personal details before they’ll hand out their chips or tokens. It’s a workaround that some players will go for, but obviously, this method means you have to travel, and it’s never going to be as cosy as your own armchair.
Use someone else's account
A fourth option which many punters opt for is to sign into their normal casinos using someone else’s details. Most often this is a friend or partner. This method is highly risky, for several reasons. You would have to use crypto or another anonymous method of payment to keep your details hidden, for one thing. The whole thing just seems a little devious and underhanded, and not very comfortable.
Another issue would be that you’re very likely to be breaking the rules of the site itself, and if they detect this transgression, they may very well impose serious penalties on you. Probably the biggest issue with this tactic, though, is that there are likely to be pretty serious legal implications. If you’re using someone’s details without their knowledge or consent, then it is completely illegal and subject to all kinds of problems for you.
Getting Around Your Self-Ban
So, you’ve banned yourself and now you’re annoyed about it. Well, don’t stress. There are several ways to work around the issue, which are every bit as good as those casinos you’re missing out on. Again, these options are suggested only for those players who genuinely made a mistake in activating Gamstop, and if you know you are playing to excess you are strongly advised to adhere to your ban.
Ultimately, the only sound and decent way around your self-ban is to go around the UKGC purview altogether. You can log into a non-UKGC in the ordinary way, and provide all the relevant details and information just as you normally would. Everything goes ahead exactly as it should, and there is no need for any subterfuge of any kind. Non-Gamstop casinos may be the answer to Gamstop issues.
More importantly, you aren’t placing yourself in harm’s way. Some of the other methods mentioned above carry significant risk, either to your funds or to your personal life. We would strongly advise folks to avoid doing risky things and to remain on the side of the law at all times. Failure to abide by the dictates of the law, and common sense, can have severe consequences to your life.
When you think about it carefully, you will probably agree that your genuine options boil down to three:
1) simply wait out the duration of your self-imposed ban, which could be anything up to five years.
2) go to an old-fashioned physical casino near you.
Given that the UKGC has obliged all the casinos under its purview to sign up to the Gamstop database, nearly all of the providers within the UK now require this as part of your signup process with them. This then means once you’ve opted to ban yourself, you’re effectively barred from logging in for the duration you set yourself, and the sites themselves do not control this at all.
Around the world, there are tons and tons of sites which have absolutely nothing to do with the UKGC and of course the vast majority of them don’t even do business in the UK at all. If you’ve banned yourself in a fit of pique, and then come to regret that decision, you are hoping to find a site that has the ‘best of both’ and will let you in.
In other words, you are looking for a site that has nothing to do with the UKGC, but which nevertheless is licensed to trade in the UK online gambling scene. This is where Curacao comes into things, for the player who has erroneously opted into a Gamstop ban. Online casinos licensed in Curacao can operate in the UK but are not subject to the United Kingdom Gambling Commission. They’re non-Gamstop.
Curacao offers a single gambling license, which functions as an online casino license. It is an eGaming license, which allows particular operators and providers to host online services that include casinos, games of chance, games of skill, lotteries, and sports betting. This license is recognised worldwide, although there is a shortlist of countries that do not recognise it. The United Kingdom and Northern Ireland are not on this list.
This means that for those players who have locked themselves out of their favourite casinos, the main option remaining to them is casinos that are licensed in Curacao. Fortunately, there are several such casinos, and licenses obtained from the Curacao Gaming Authority are properly administered, governed, and regulated in every respect required of a Gaming Authority.
You’ll find all the same facilities available to you, and there’s no need to radically change up the way you like to play. Also, all of the biggest names in the game are all going to be there too, so the specific games you know and love are going to be there too. The whole experience that we go for in the online casino doesn’t change, just because the specific site does. Who knows, you may even find little changes you like.
One thing which seems to be true is that welcome bonuses and free spins are often really good at Curacao-based online casinos, for the very simple reason that Curacao has very low rates of taxation on their licenses. This means that the extra cash can be put back into the enterprise, rather than given to the taxman. It’s good to have that little extra, we think, and casinos not on Gamstop can afford some of those extras.
I think we can all agree that it’s good to have protection for people who are struggling, for whatever reason. This is why we applaud the efforts of the gambling community, of Gamstop and the UKGC, as well as the effort and cooperation of the casinos themselves. After all, helping folks is just a good thing to do. On the other hand, sometimes folks get swept up by large programs and put themselves into places where they ought not to be.
In cases like that, where players regrettably exclude themselves, it’s a good thing to know where your alternatives are. This is why we put together a little assessment of the options available out there, and what the pluses and minuses of these choices might be. We know that players will try to find workaround alternatives, and so we decided it would be a little better if everyone is informed and aware of everything beforehand.
We hope that our guide has been beneficial and informative and that people who need not be banned can find a way to enjoy their favourite pastime, without falling foul of either the law or bad actors who might prey on people. Gamstop casinos have their place, and we reckon casinos not on Gamstop have theirs too.
GAMSTOP Frequently asked questions
It is just not possible. Once you have touched that button, you’re done for the length of time you selected. This could be from a minimum of 6 months to 5 years. During that length of time, you will be unable to play on any UKGC online casino.
Nope. Gamstop does not affect any casinos licensed abroad and is also unaffiliated with any land-based casinos operating within the United Kingdom.
There are, yes. Casinos which operate as physical businesses within the UK are exempt from Gamstop and operate their own scheme called SENSE. It’s pretty much the same thing as Gamstop, although unaffiliated.
Yes, they can. A good example of this is casinos that hold licenses from Curacao. They are widely available within the UK gambling scene.
Well, it depends on how you do so. There are perfectly safe options, and there are less advisable options. Always research, and make good choices.
Crypto has been in use with casinos for quite some time, and its use is generally safe. Because it is crypto, there are some disadvantages if you’re dealing with an unscrupulous vendor online, so always choose wisely.
Broadly speaking, yes. Casinos which operate out of Curacao are typically no different to UKGC casinos and can be approached in the same way. Always practice caution though, because unreliable actors exist regardless of licensure.
Some are, yes. Gamstop has affiliations with several banks and credit providers, who monitor spending at certain sites, etc. They have the power to block certain transactions from happening.
Yes, it is, but in a limited way. If you’re banned by Gamstop, you will not be able to play instant games with the National Lottery, but you can still play the main lottery itself.
No, they cannot. If you have banned yourself on Gamstop, you will have to approach the casinos yourself and ask for the money to be returned.