National online self-exclusion service Gamstop has reported the findings of its most recent data, documenting the impact of lockdown on consumers, as the UKGC instructs online operators that tighter measures need to be implemented to heighten protection.

Initially going live in April 2018, from March 31, 2020, it has been a licensing condition for all online operators to be members of the service, with users able to restrict themselves from all UK-licensed online gambling sites for a minimum period of either six months, a year or five years.

With self-exclusion unable to be terminated before the expiration of the minimum term, Gamstop notes an average of 1,000 requests per month to do so. This reached 400 per week in the two week period after lockdown was announced, which has subsequently scaled back to 350.

In the week before lockdown, Gamstop received around 600 requests from users to be removed from the scheme because their self-exclusion period had expired, subsequently increasing to around 800 a week later.

By the end of April the figure had dropped to approximately 700 per week, partially aligned to the fact that more users are eligible to remove themselves from the scheme the longer it is in existence.

Furthermore, it is documented that 67 per cent of registered users have opted to exclude themselves from online gambling sites for the maximum five-year period and are not eligible to leave the scheme. 

Prior to lockdown in the region of 665 existing consumers a month added a new minimum exclusion period to an existing self-exclusion, and that figure is said to have 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.

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.”