The UK is home to one of the most robust online gambling communities in the world. As a matter of fact, the UK is considered the birthplace of online gambling, dating back to the late part of the 20th century.
Over the years, the UK online gambling market has been in a constant state of growth. In the early years, online gambling was largely focused on horse racing and sports. By the turn of the century, UK online casinos started gaining momentum that progressed as software development technology improved. Today, you can find almost any form of gambling on the UK internet. That includes horse racing, sports betting, casinos, lotteries, online bingo, and yes, online poker.
Why the UK Gambling Commission was Created
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) was formally introduced to UK residents in 2007. It was the UK government’s way of stating they knew online gambling was going to be huge in the future. To meet what they knew would be a tremendous demand for regulations, they made the UKGC the nation’s primary gambling regulator.
In the years since its founding, the UKGC has made great efforts to protect the residents of the UK from rogue online operators. They have also sought ways to help UK online gamblers protect themselves from themselves.
UKGC Introduced the GamStop Self-exclusion Scheme
In 2018, the UKGC introduced the GamStop Self-exclusion program to the masses. The program was designed to serve as a responsible gambling resource for online gamblers who feel their online gambling activities are getting out of control. The program works as follows.
GamStop is a voluntary program. Gamblers can access the GamStop registration form through their favourite online gambling sites. Most online operators carry the GamStop link in their responsible gambling areas. That ensures licensed operators are doing something to protect their gamblers, and gamblers have easy and immediate access.
Gamblers can protect themselves by registering to become part of the GamStop database. By doing so, they will have all of the UK’s licensed online gambling operators helping them stay away from online gambling sites. The good news for registered GamStop gamblers is they get the right to decide how long they want the self-exclusion period enforced.
In the eyes of the UKGC, the GamStop scheme plays a vital role in keeping the nation from suffering a growth in problem gambling issues. In support of the program, the UKGC decided to mandate membership in the GamStop program by all licensed UK online gambling operators. This was done in April of 2020.
Are UK Poker Sites Required to Follow GamStop Mandates?
It’s important to remember that the UKGC has regulatory authority over all forms of online gambling in the UK. That includes:
- Bingo sites
- Lottery sites
- UK horse racing sites
And yes, it does include online poker sites. To answer the titled question, one only needs to recognize that all online poker operators that want to serve UK residents have to be licensed. Hence, they have to subscribe to the GamStop scheme for a nominal subscription fee. Should they fail to do that, they run the risk of getting hit with fines or the possibility of losing their operating licences. What does this mean to UK poker players like you?
How the GamStop Mandate Affects the UK Online Poker Playing Community
Since licensed UK online poker sites are required to subscribe to GamStop, you have to consider your own GamStop status before picking a site on which you can play poker. If you are not a GamStop subscribed, there is no issue. If you are subscribed to GamStop, you will have to go in search of alternatives that will bypass GamStop scrutiny.
Your choices would include options like
- Poker sites that accept crypto
- Offshore poker sites
- Partnering with another player on an account under their name
- Using a UK non-GamStop poker sites
If you want to, you can find unlocked poker not on GamStop via NonGamStopOdds. It’s worth noting that many of these non-GamStop poker sites are reputable, safe, and secure. They offer all the right poker options, games for players at all levels, and a frequent roster of tournament options.
What you would need to understand is that unlicensed poker sites are able to avoid most of the UKGC’s rules and regulations. That opens the door for them to be able to partake in questionable activities. To be clear, rogue poker operators are rare. However, you still have an obligation to protect yourself by doing research on any and all poker sites you might want to consider.
The best non-GamStop poker sites will have the following traits:
- A stellar reputation with review sites
- Great selection of poker games
- Games for players at all levels
- Good bonus programs that offer poker player extra value