Explanation of the GamCare Safer Gambling Standard

With the ongoing proliferation of online gambling throughout the UK and most parts of the world, a lot of focus is being directed at the potential for problem gambling issues. While allowing adults to have easy access to online casinos and sportsbooks, both government agencies and online gambling operators have a vested interest in protecting vulnerable problem gamblers.

Operators Providing a Safe Environment for Online Gambling Activities

The UK government has long supported letting its residents gamble online. At the same time, they have always pushed licensed operators to take measures in place to combat problem gambling issues.

In recent times, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has been charged with “motivating” online gambling operators to comply with certain standards. Two of those standards are attaining membership in GamCare and GamStop. Both of these schemes are designed to address the potential of online gamblers falling prey to gambling addiction.

About GamCare

GamCare is a charity devoted to the support and protection of online gamblers who may be dealing with problem gambling issues. While the charity does not dictate government guidelines or regulations, they do seek to provide standards by which member online gambling operators can develop their problem gambling programs and resources.

As an interesting sidenote, GamCare receives much of its financial support through donations received by GambleAware. GambleAware is itself a charity organisation that receives its donations from businesses involved in the gambling industry.

The GamCare scheme is available to any and all UK licensed online gambling operators that are members of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC). Through an appointed panel of gambling industry experts, the charity has developed what they believe to be standards by which any responsible online gambling provider should be willing to abide. These standards focus on the resources and protocols that each operator should have in place for the benefit of online gamblers who might need help.

To be clear, these are voluntary standards that have been developed around 73 different criteria. These criteria are intended to serve as the foundation for creating a safe online gambling environment.

To receive “GamCare Certification” as a responsible online gambling provider, BGC members are rated on the aforementioned criteria. Based on satisfying these criteria, operators are seeking four levels of rewards. The reward goes from basic certification over the first 52 criteria to advanced level 3 certification for compliance with all 73 criteria.

If online gamblers want to approach their online gambling activities with the best of intentions, they can do so by gambling exclusively through GamCare certified online gambling sites. By doing so, gamblers can freely gamble through their favourite GamCare gambling sites, knowing protections are in place should they start to encounter problem gambling issues.

About GamStop

One of the key criteria on which GamCare likes to focus is an online gambling operator’s membership with the GamStop Self-exclusion scheme. While the UKGC does not mandate GamCare membership, they do mandate that licensed UK online gambling operators subscribe to the GamStop scheme.

GamStop is a voluntary self-exclusion program that operators are required to make available to its customers. Under the threat of losing their UKGC licences, operators subscribe to GamStop for a fee. By doing so, they can then access the GamStop database.

It’s ultimately incumbent on UK gamblers to register with the GamStop program should they feel they need to be protected from their own online gambling activities. Registration is free. Once a gambler has entered the GamStop database, they will be excluded from having access to any licensed UK online gambling sites.

As a voluntary program, it’s the gamblers who get to decide how long their self-exclusion is to last. The choices range from 6 months to 5 years. Once the self-prescribed self-exclusion period ends, gamblers can register for new online gambling accounts or request reactivation of prior accounts.

Getting Around GamStop

For the most part, GamStop has proven to be a very effective way for problem gamblers to avoid their online gambling activities. At the same time, this protection is only applicable to GamStop member operators. The program does nothing to address other ways that gamblers can gamble even after they register with GamStop.

The reality is some registered GamStop gamblers will have a change of heart. If they truly feel they can safely resume their online gambling activities, they are adults and have the right to change their minds. When they do, they can only resume their online gambling activities through non-GamStop alternatives.

Since there are many online casinos without GamStop in England, that is often the first option a GamStop gambler will seek. These online casinos are licensed by avoiding GamStop membership, or online casinos that are operating out of the view of the UKGC. While they may not be following certain rules, there are some of these online gambling operators that are still safe and quite reputable.

If going with an unlicensed operator holds little appeal, GamStop gamblers still have other available options. That list includes options like:

  • Using a VPN to gamble with an offshore (foreign) online operator
  • Registering to play through a crypto-only online gambling site
  • Partnering up with a third-party to open a new account under the third-party’s identity
  • Choosing an online casino that does little to no account verification
  • Stick with retail gambling until exclusion expires

Ultimately, online gambling operators join GamCare to benefit people who might need help.

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