The bingo industry has always been committed to helping and supporting punters who may experience difficulties to manage their gambling tendencies. Considering the popularity of bingo in the UK is immense, to assist problem gamblers, the licensed bingo premises offer a scheme that helps gamblers to request exclusion from all brick-and-mortar legal casinos in the UK. Apart from this, for online gamblers, there is a self-exclusion scheme GamStop. This enables punters to decide for their benefit and exclude themselves from gambling for periods of 6 months, a year, or 5 years.
So, considering these two factors (bingo popularity and the number of self-excluded bingo players) let’s try to figure out how GamStop has impacted the online bingo industry.
How GamStop Affects Online Bingo Halls
As already mentioned, GamStop is a voluntary self-exclusion scheme that gamblers can join to take a break from their gambling habits. The scheme was launched aiming to help all problem gamblers recover from the harmful repercussions of over gambling. Gambling addicts face financial losses, strained relationships with friends and family, and mental disturbance. All casinos licensed under the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) have made it mandatory to join GamStop along with following all of its restrictions.
Online bingo halls do not welcome punters who are registered under the scheme for the chosen period. To make this compulsory, UKGC keeps tabs on all licensed casinos in the UK to ensure that they are a part of the scheme implemented. Bingo rooms without GamStop that do not obey the UKGC norms risk getting their licenses revoked. There are two categories of websites with bingo halls that are covered by GamStop:
Online bingo halls under UKGC regulations. All bingo hall websites in the UK where players are able to deposit their money must be licensed under the UKGC, and support the GamStop self-exclusion scheme.
Online casinos under UKGC regulations. Online casinos that host bingo games are a very popular option among British players. However, following the UKGC requirements regarding self-exclusion apply here as well: all online casino operators that want a UKGC licence must join GamStop. Respectively, all games provided by such casinos, including slots, poker, bingo, table games, and more, are covered by GamStop and are unavailable for gamblers blocked by this program, except for these operators, which are not under any self-exclusion schemes but are still open for UK bingo fans.
Does GamStop Influence Offline Bingo Halls?
Bingo has always been a mainstay of popular culture in the UK. Based on luck, there is no surprise in how popular the game is among the masses. The only skill needed to crack bingo is the capacity to listen and pay attention to the numbers called out for determining whether they correspond with the numbers on the scratch card. Whoever marks off all numbers wins. The local bingo halls in the UK bring together a host of local people who enjoy the game. However, the popularity has been decreasing eventually due to online bingo popping up. A host of reasons for its decline include:
- Increase in the number of options and games provided at online bingo halls
- Ban on smoking in public areas, and bingo halls in the UK
- Tac legislation
- Decrease in jackpot machines
To self-exclude from an offline bingo hall, a punter needs to fill out a digital application along with a digital photograph of themselves. The customer data is then verified and processed. Then, the punter is interviewed to understand his problem and make him understand the consequences of self-exclusion. His data is then added to the Bingo Industry Self Exclusion Scheme or BISES system. This ensures exclusion from all the licensed bingo halls in the UK. GamStop only controls online gambling. It does not have a role in bingo premises in the UK. Between April to September 2020, the annual turnover of online bingo in the UK amounted to over 51.85 million pounds. The annual turnover of prize bingo during the same period was around 1.12 million pounds.
In 2022, bingo generated 500 million GBP in the UK, which proves it to be one of the most popular games in the country. Considering this fact alone, online bingo is expected to continue growing and developing even further. The biggest advantage of bingo halls over online bingo is the social interaction part which will soon be ruled out with VR technology and other innovations. The Covid-19 pandemic was the major reason behind punters being drawn toward online gambling. These punters might not have entirely abandoned bingo halls but they prefer online gambling.
Bingo keeps evolving as well, with new forms springing up every day. Time will tell what holds for bingo in the future but, keeping in mind the current trends, the game shall not fall off the hook.