Online gambling got birthed in 1994 when Antigua and Barbuda decided to pass the Free Trade and Processing Act. However, it took two years before the world’s first online casino (InterCasino) appeared, thanks to online payment technology developed by its operator CryptoLogic. In the 1990s and the 2000s, Americans could only enjoy online casino entertainment for real money at offshore platforms. That all changed in 2013, when the Nevada Gaming Commission granted 888 Casino a license, making it the first Interactive Gaming Service Provider active in any US jurisdiction. That same year, this brand also made its presence known in New Jersey, the top US online gambling market.
Following the global events that began to unfold in early 2020, many US states are now looking to create new tax revenues to plug budget shortfalls. One of the simplest ways to achieve this is to legalize online gambling. When it comes to sports betting, almost everyone is passing such laws, with many territories also exploring the option to make online casino gaming a reality for their residents. With this occurrence, concerns come about a potential rise in gambling addiction rates in the US. Thus, many are looking to Europe’s most established interactive gaming market to draw lessons on how they can curb problem gambling. What follows below is an in-depth look at how UK’s mandatory self-exclusion scheme named GamStop operates and how foreign, non GamStop Casinos stop their users from developing a compulsion towards online betting or nourishing such a preexisting condition.
UKGC’s Partnership With GamStop
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is Britain’s gaming regulator. It took over this role from the Gaming Board for Great Britain in 2007, as detailed in the Gambling Act of 2005. It monitors all forms of gambling that happen within the UK’s borders, except for spread betting. For years, the UKGC had planned on implementing a mandatory self-exclusion scheme featured at every one of its licensed operators. Intentions for such a system to go live got announced in 2017. Yet, it took three more years before it became active under the title GamStop. It gets operated by a 501c3 non-profit organization that bears the name The National Online Self Exclusion Scheme Limited. Once a UK player activates a GamStop ban, he can no longer visit and play at any UKGC site until his chosen self-exclusion period elapses.
The UKGC has a renowned reputation as the firmest interactive gaming regulator in Europe. It looks after all UK players by supplying unparalleled player protection. It goes so far as to make every UKGC-licensed operator implement measures like spin timers, game limitations, no auto-play, and more, to lower the rates of gambling addiction in Britain. Slots sites not on GamStop offer more liberating gameplay due to them not having to feature any of these measures.
How Non GamStop Casinos Function
The list of casinos not on GamStop is immense because these are platforms with a license from an international regulator and not the UKGC. The UK Gambling Commission only monitors a little over a hundred sites active on the UK market. The other gaming platforms available for Brits are slot and bingo sites not on GamStop, which are of comparable quality but boast foreign licenses. One such famous interactive gaming licensing organization is the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA). Malta is Europe’s online gambling haven, and every operator that seeks to offer its services to residents of countries with no online gaming legislation attains an MGA license to do so.
The Malta Gaming Authority is a reliable regulator and enforces many of the same measures as the UKGC. However, it is not as diligent as the previously mentioned organization. Nor is it ass firm in punishing its operators. That said, many UK players prefer to play on old and new non GamStop casinos because these platforms offer more business promotional products, games, have higher max bet limits, and feature more liberating gameplay.
GamStop Platforms vs. Non GamStop Casinos
Under the hood, UK-based and non-UK sites have multiple similarities. That is so because they use many identical software solutions. Still, they differ in some areas, mainly due to the UKGC’s concerns regarding impulse control and betting. It wants to keep betting an entertainment-based activity, nothing more. That said, no one platform category is better than the other. They each have their benefits and drawbacks, some of which get listed below.
Pros Of UK-Based Sites
- Super vetted operators.
- Universal self-exclusion.
- Slot gameplay is less intense.
- Third-party dispute resolution such as IBAS.
Cons Of UK-Based Sites
- Less generous promotions.
- No niche transaction methods on hand.
- Irreversible self-exclusion bans.
Positives Of Non GamStop Casinos
- Vaster game libraries.
- No slot gameplay limitations.
- More payment methods on offer.
- Perk-rich customer loyalty programs.
Negatives Of Non UK Casinos
- Dispute resolution per foreign laws.
- Availability to debt accumulation payment methods (credit cards).
- No universal conditions apply to all operators.
What Gambling Addiction Measures Does The US Market Need?
Hopefully, something similar to GamStop would be perfect. However, there is no federal body that can oversee the implementation of such a program. The only two organizations that can start an initiative regarding such a nationwide scheme are the American Gaming Association and the National Council on Problem Gambling (United States). One of these entities could create such a database and offer voluntary participation to all online gambling operators that provide their services from a US jurisdiction.
Sadly, they cannot force gambling sites to implement such a scheme. But, if lobbies and authorities put pressure on the most popular online casino brands in the nation to participate, that could cause a ripple effect. Smaller, less-established gaming companies would not want to risk appearing less reliable to customers by not taking part in such a system, thus leading to it spreading nationwide. Of course, it would take some time for such an idea to come to fruition. There are still ongoing debates on the precise DOJ interpretation of the Interstate Wire Act of 1961. Does it allow US states to pass their legalization regarding online casinos or not?
There is no doubt that the US online casino market will soon explode. When it does, operators will have to take appropriate steps to ensure that everyone engages in this pastime responsibly. A GamStop-like program seems like a quality first step. Even non GamStop casinos promote responsible gambling by allowing everyone to set loss/deposit limits and site self-exclude. US online casinos offer that as well, but there is a need for state-wide and nation-wide anti-gambling addiction measures to stop the proliferation of gambling-related harm. The future of the US market is bright, and everyone in it should do their part to ensure that gambling remains fun.