Poker is one of the most popular card games that migrated from land-based to online casinos, which gained an even larger audience. Online poker attracts millions of fans worldwide due to its convenience, the ability to use different strategies to win, various betting options and formats, and more.
About 100 million players enjoy poker. At the same time, Texas Hold ’em is the most popular: about 70% of all poker enthusiasts around the globe play it. However, such popularity is associated with the danger of developing gambling addiction if the Responsible Gambling rules are not observed.
Those players who find it difficult to independently follow time and deposit limits often find a solution in self-exclusion schemes. One of the most popular schemes is GamStop, which boasts about 365,000 registered users since the project’s launch. Thanks to a study conducted by the Sonnet agency in 2021, it was found that about 84% of GamStop users feel safer from gambling-related harm and have greater control over their lives.
Understanding Poker and Problem Gambling
Those advantages that poker leverages with an irresponsible approach to the game can lead to problems. Non-GamStop poker sites play one of the key roles in this problem. They often do not comply with the proper level of customer protection and are unlikely to encourage adherence to Responsible Gambling rules.
High involvement, a large selection of game types for different experience levels, dozens of tempting tournaments, and a wide variety of game formats make the game attractive to players. However, about 40% of poker enthusiasts have moderate to severe gambling addiction problems and are at high risk of developing physical and mental health problems (according to Australian Gambling Research Center data). According to lead researcher Andrew Armstrong, regular players spent about $1,758 on poker over a year.
GamStop: A Tool for Self-Exclusion
GamStop represents the initial and crucial measure to ensure a secure poker gambling experience. This is currently the top pick among vulnerable and weak-willed players who want to set a physical barrier between them and online casinos. GamStop is the first step for secure poker gambling. Over more than five years of operation, the program has become available to 136 remote iGaming operators with a gambling license in the UK and has gained an excellent reputation.
What is GamStop and How Does it Work?
In fact, it is a web-based service you must enrol in by passing a simple registration process. You must specify and then verify your email address on the official website. For a better experience, you should provide maximum info about yourself, including a phone number, current address, postcode, and more.
Next, you select between available self-exclusion terms: 6 months, 1 year, and 5 years. After your info is sent to all casinos that support GamStop, you can not open, log into accounts or create new ones until the self-exclusion term expires.
The Benefits of Using GamStop for Poker Players
Besides the widespread of GamStop, players still have access to poker sites not on the GamStop scheme, allowing them to enjoy a wider range of options. By registering on the platform, you do not need to contribute your own money to self-exclude. The resource does not require you to download an application, which, together with a flexible system for choosing a self-exclusion period, makes GamStop one of the top solutions on the market. Thanks to the physical barrier between the gamblers and the casino, they can fully recover without fearing relapse and start playing again.
GamStop-Free Poker Sites: Pros & Cons
Together with UKGC-licensed casinos, there are GamStop-free poker sites, which have their own advantages and drawbacks.
- No game restrictions
- Higher stakes available
- Extended game profile
- Diverse deposit promotions
- Less protection of clients
- Extra withdrawal fees
- Potentially bigger losses
Despite a larger selection of games, attractive bonuses and more democratic betting limits, vulnerable gamblers should be careful playing at such casinos. In this case, discipline is key: setting deposit/time limits and never exceeding them is necessary. Mobile poker apps are a great example of a gambling operator category where GamStop is not in place – this includes platfroms like ClubGG and X-Poker.
Alternatives to GamStop
Since GamStop is active only towards UK-based casinos, it makes sense for players to seek additional self-exclusion services.
- It is an essential tool for poker players, this service contains over 60,000 unique casino URLs in its database and is fairly difficult to bypass. It helps to avoid not only traditional poker sites but also bookies, crypto poker and crypto trading platforms, and more.
- It is a free service that can be downloaded and installed on almost any device. About 86,000 unique casino addresses are in its database, which is updated regularly. Along with blocking sites, the app allows you to filter adult content and schedule your gaming activity using a calendar feature.
- It is a paid service that requires installing the software on your device. Thanks to flexible customization, you may block only specific gambling site categories.
All GamStop alternatives have pros and cons, so it’s better to test several options before making the final decision.
Responsible Poker Gambling: To Sum Up
Poker is an extremely engaging game that can bring satisfaction, cash prizes, and serious problems if played irresponsibly. This is why self-exclusion programs have been developed for vulnerable players. The most popular among them is GamStop, – a free service active for UK-based casinos.
When it comes to overseas sites where GamStop is not supported, players may try such options as GamBan, BetFilter, BetBlocker, etc. While they all block access to online poker and gambling sites, they differ in sets of additional features and pricing plans that must be considered when choosing.