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A GamCare research study has provided evidence of the effectiveness of multi-operator self-exclusion schemes in helping people who experience gambling harm.

Self-exclusion allows individuals to request help to prevent them from gambling for a minimum period of six months. Operators must take all possible measures to stop an individual from gambling during this time, whether it be land-based or online, and they must stop sending direct marketing material to self-excluded individuals.

Each gambling sector has multi-operator self-exclusion schemes and customers can self-exclude from individual operators.

Conducted by global market research firm IPSOS, the study is the first longitudinal research into self-exclusion schemes, offering insights into the long-term impact on scheme participants, the value of multi-operator schemes and the effects they have.

A total of 30 follow-up interviews were conducted with people that had signed up for these schemes, taking place three years after a baseline study with a 71 per cent original cohort taking part.

Several of the study’s participants commented on the GAMSTOP multi-operator scheme, which applies to all UK online operators and allows users to provide their details and give permission to operators to deny them access to existing gambling accounts or create new ones.

Respondents stated that they were “appreciative that GAMSTOP was available, citing how online gambling was easier to lose money compared to land-based gambling”.

At the time of the interview, many of the research participants were still part of one or more self-exclusion schemes, with several now feeling they have more control over their gambling behaviour.

Other participants had combined multi-operator self-exclusion schemes with other tools, such as talking therapies, the GamBan app to block digital access to gambling apps and websites, ad blockers and asking banks to block gambling-related transactions.

The TalkBanStop initiative – a partnership between GamCare, GamBan and GAMSTOP – demonstrates the effectiveness of layering practical tools and support to amplify the impact for people experiencing gambling harms. There have been over 12,700 free sign-ups to Gamban’s blocking software through the scheme since its launch.

GamCare noted that the study found that self-exclusion was “seen as a ‘speed bump’ in the road towards harmful gambling”, and that there is “little evidence to suggest that those self-excluding from one gambling sector transferred their harmful gambling behaviour to another form of gambling”.

In regards to recommendations to improve a self-exclusion scheme’s effectiveness, the study stated that participants should be allowed to select a personal self-exclusion period, including a lifetime option, as well as a review of an operator’s marketing behaviours at the end of an individual’s exclusion period.

Participants also called for more land-based venues, such as arcades and betting shops, to be more proactive in stopping customers who had self-excluded.