Three years since its launch, Gamstop, the nationwide self-exclusion scheme, will no longer come under the purview of the RGA (Remote Gambling Association).
NOSES, the National Online Self-Exclusion Scheme which runs Gamstop, will now take ownership of the programme. The move, according to the body, emphasises the scheme’s independence from the gambling industry. The RGA is, of course, effectively a lobby organisation for the online gaming industry. Therefore, questions have swirled around the true impartiality of the scheme and whether the scheme’s perceived flaws were a true priority or not.
The NOSES board is made up of Jenny Watson, Kevin Beerling, Roger Parkes, Dr Jo Watts and Mike Dixon, who is the latest addition to the organisation. Acting as a non-executive director, Dixon is a highly experienced appointment that many see as the organisation taking its aims very seriously.
He joins NOSES from the mental health and addiction charity Addaction, where he served as Chief Executive. Prior to that, he was the assistant CEO of Citizens Advice and a director of crime witness charity, Victim Support.
Watson, Gamstop’s Chair of the Board, said: “These changes help to strengthen our independence and I would like to thank the RGA for the constructive nature of our discussions.”
She also commented on Dixon’s appointment specifically, saying: “As we continue to develop, Mike Dixon’s insight and experience will provide the operational team with a strong independent challenge.”
Gamstop, announced three years ago and launched in early 2018, is a tool that allows customers to block themselves from all UK licensed gambling sites should they choose to sign up. Hailed as a crucial tool for problem gamblers to be able to help themselves, the scheme is eventually expected to become a mandatory component for all UK licence holding brands.
However, the tool has received its fair share of criticism. Not only was its launch, in April 2018, severely delayed from an expected 2017 date, the scheme has proved quite easy to work around.
According to a BBC investigation for Radio 5Live, customers can simply get around their self-exclusion by altering some of the details that they registered with.
Gamstop said that “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.”
This process should improve since the launch of mandatory KYC checks before customers can make deposits. Therefore, the quality of customer information, including a copy of each person’s ID, should make matching players easier.
However, until this wrinkle can be smoothed, the Gambling Commission have said that they will not consider making it mandatory for licensees.