UK gaming operators were told to participate in the Gamstop multi-operator self-exclusion scheme by the end of March or risk losing their licence.
The Gambling Commission took the decision as part of its tightening of gambling problem safeguards which includes banning all gambling credit cards.
Designed for the online sector, Gamstop will enable consumers to exclude themselves from online operators with one request rather than from each operator individually. With more than 200 online operators, the Gambling Commission believes this will make access to self-exclusion much easier for those who want to avoid online gambling.
Chief executive of Gambling Commission Neil McArthur said: “By the 31 March all online operators will be required to participate in the multi-operator self-exclusion scheme. Although the vast majority of operators are already participating in Gamstop this will make the coverage comprehensive.
“We welcome the fact that Gamstop have got to this stage in their development and encourage them to continue to improve their offer, particularly in relation to preventing those who have self-excluded being targeted by direct marketing.”
McArthur added that it is necessary for self-exclusion schemes to be as effective as possible but said that they will be most effective when used in conjunction with other blocking methods such as blocking gambling software and blocking payment cards.
He concluded: “Operators must do everything they can to minimise the risk of gambling related harm. That is why we expect the industry to create safe products, know their customers, understand what they can afford to gamble with and identify when they are experiencing harm and step in.
“It is also vital that people experiencing gambling harm are able to access the support or treatment they need. This forms part of our ongoing work with our partners to implement the National Strategy for Reducing Gambling Harms.”
Ministers of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport discussed their increasing concerns with banks and gambling operators last year and to advise how companies could use technology and customer data to help those at risk of developing gambling issues, including those using credit cards.
Gambling minister Helen Whately has said: “We have been clear to all businesses that have connections to gambling, such as operators, social media platforms and banks, that they must be socially responsible and use the power of technology and data to help consumers manage their spending and protect them from harm.
“I have been encouraged by the majority of major high street banks introducing measures to allow customers to switch off spending on gambling through mobile apps.
“By making it a regulatory requirement for all online gambling websites licensed in Great Britain to sign up to Gamstop. I am confident that people who have taken the significant step to opt out of gambling will be well supported, alongside a wide range of other tools.”
The Commission has also adopted and updated new rules on age verification in the last two years. This also includes additional online security and limits on play-for-free games, a tightening of rules on gambling ads, changes in guidance to be given to customers by data operators, and revised guidelines on recognising harm markers.