GamStop says ID changes will enhance self-exclusion service

14 January 2019

GamStop has said that improved identity verification processes for operators will improve its service, after a BBC investigation accused the self-exclusion platform of failing to adequately protect problem gamblers.

The industry-managed national online self-exclusion database, was the subject of a report by the BBC Radio 5 Live Investigates show over the weekend. This saw flaws in the solution highlighted, namely the fact that a gambler that had self-excluded could bypass the system by simply changing their user details. 

GamStop accepted that such flaws are a concern, and said it was working hard to improve the solution. It said that these efforts will be aided by the UK Gambling Commission's efforts to enhance the initial identity verification processes carried out by gambling operators when a customer signs up. These changes, GamStop said, would make it harder for customers to trick the system into allowing them to resume gambling while excluded.

“Whilst it is effective for the vast majority of the 50,000 people who have since registered with the scheme, there are a small number of individuals who have been able to subsequently open gambling accounts by changing details provided during registration,” GamStop explained. “Since the UK does not have a national ID scheme, matching consumers is reliant on the information they provide to GamStop and also the quality of information held by each operator.

“Operators have varied methods of verification and differ vastly in size and scope. This makes GamStop an extremely complex technology project."

GamStop said it was working closely with operators to better understand this flaw, and that it had launched a new consumer account function on its website, making it easier for customers to update their details and maximise the level of protection offered.

“GamStop remains an important self-help tool and we can see that it is effectively blocking many thousands of individuals every day.”

A Gambling Commission spokesperson told The Guardian newspaper that it would soon announce the outcome of a consultation on ID verification which could see operators required to block customers from using incorrect details, such as different names, when signing up.

The regulator accepted that GamStop is “still in its testing phase and is working on improvements.”

The solution soft-launched in April 2018, with GamStop seeking feedback and comments from the industry and players in order to refine and improve the product.

The Remote Gambling Association (RGA) agreed to design and implement the self-exclusion scheme at the start of 2016 to meet the aims of the Gambling Commission’s Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice under the terms of the 2014 Gambling Act.

Speaking to iGamingBusiness.com today, the RGA, which represents the country’s major gambling operators, was unwavering in its support for GamStop.

“The Remote Gambling Association and our members fully support GamStop, this ground-breaking social responsibility support tool is currently helping more than 50,000 people who have chosen to self-exclude,” said RGA social responsibility manager Stella Dalton.

“We recognise that such a complex multi operator digital system can be challenging, we are not complacent about how vitally important it is to continuously work together to provide the support for those who need it.”

GamStop is free of charge for the user and provides the option to self-exclude from online gambling activities for six months, one or five years. The founders Campaign for Fairer Gambling (CFG) have launched a competing self-exclusion service, Gamban, for which customers must pay £10. However, the solution is available free of charge to Kindred Group customers, through a partnership with the operator.