National online self-exclusion service Gamstop has published the findings of its most recent research, revealing that 67% of registered users had opted to self-exclude for the maximum five-year period during lockdown.
The research primarily focused on the impact of the ongoing lockdown on consumers. From 31 March 2020, it has been a licensing condition for all online operators to offer the self-exclusion service.
Self-exclusion is not able to be terminated prior to the expiration of the minimum term of six months. Gamstop usually receives an average of 1000 requests per month to opt-out of-exclusion. This rose to 400 per week in the two week period after lockdown was announced, which has subsequently scaled back to 350.
Figures from the research revealed that in the week prior to the lockdown, Gamstop received close to 600 requests from users requesting that they are removed from the scheme because their self-exclusion period had expired, subsequently increasing to around 800 a week later.
This figure did drop to approximately 700 per week by the end of April, which has been attributed to the fact that more users are eligible to remove themselves from the scheme the longer it is in existence.
Fiona Palmer, chief executive of Gamstop, explained: “Our data shows that Gamstop is continuing to provide important support to vulnerable consumers during lockdown and thousands of new users are choosing to exclude themselves from online gambling.
“We offer a free, simple and secure solution to anyone who needs breathing space to address issues with their gambling. Once a consumer has registered with us they cannot cancel their self-exclusion prematurely and this gives them time to find specialist help and treatment from charities, the NHS, or use other blocking services to protect themselves.”
Meanwhile 67% of users have chosen to self-exclude for the maximum five year period, meaning they are ineligible to leave the scheme.
Approximately 665 existing customers each month have opted to add a minimum exclusion period to an ongoing exclusion period, which Gamstop believes has remained consistent.
With fears expressed that lockdown could put more vulnerable consumers at risk, in the month since March 23 Gamstop reports 6,700 new registrations or extensions. This compares to 7,000 previously.
Yesterday, the UKGC published a series of immediate operator requirements on customer interventions, player monitoring, due diligence and affordability checks.
In its judgement, the UKGC stated that it had enforced its measures to counter changing consumer habits during lockdown, as players were reporting engagements with slots, casino games and virtual sports content.