The UK gambling sector saw a boom in activity as the rise of digital technologies and faster internet connections brought casinos into living rooms and smartphones across the land. These trends gave punters access to an ever-increasing range of events and products, but it also brought an increase in problem gambling. Pressure from social groups and politicians has now led to the UK Gambling Commission taking a tougher stance on the industry. Players who are comfortable with their gambling habits are also facing restrictions and they are increasingly shifting to non-UK casinos. In this article, we’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both options:
How Does GamStop Work?
The UKGC is the regulatory body for the UK sports betting and gaming scene, which covers Britain and Northern Ireland. Over the last few years, the group have applied a more heavy-handed approach which protects problem gamblers, but also now limits the choices of those who are comfortable with their gambling habits.
The UKGC has joined forces with a non-profit group called GamStop in an attempt to tackle the problem gambling issue. UK citizens can now sign up for the service free of charge and apply a GamStop self-exclusion from casino sites for a period of 6 months, 1 year, or 5 years.
Alongside the GamStop scheme, the UKGC have been expanding their restrictions into actual gameplay. Some of the latest restrictions include the high-profile move to cut FOBT stakes, while punters can also expect spin timers and limited marketing and promotions.
How are Non-UK Casinos Regulated?
UK punters moving to non-GamStop casinos will still find that they are regulated to a high level by the appropriate authority in their country.
The opportunity to bet with non-UK casinos has been created by the same online boom that fueled the UK’s gaming growth. Casinos have now moved from physical premises to businesses that operate fully online. Gaming companies are now deciding to setup in countries that offer more suitable business conditions and a warmer climate.
Two examples of this trend would be the companies that operate out of Gibraltar and Malta. Malta is regulated by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), but the country is a member of the European Union and has the same level of rules on compliance and other directives as other countries in the region. This will ensure that those setting up gaming businesses are “fit and proper” persons, while the gaming sites will be required to meet the same standards as UK companies in money laundering and the segregation of client funds.
In recent years, Central America is becoming a popular destination for gaming, because of the rising costs of European property and living standards. Costa Rica and Curacao are two of the more popular destinations and the former is a popular retirement destination for US citizens, so it has all the amenities that a US retiree would crave. The only issue to think about when considering a switch to non-UK casinos is the lack of third-party support for dispute resolution. This is not a major issue for some, but there are online forums which can help if you need more information.
Are Non-UK Casinos Legal for UK Punters?
Yes, using non-GamStop casinos is 100% legal for UK gamblers who want to make a move from the restrictions of the British gaming industry. The only reason that more don’t know about them is because of the marketing restrictions imposed by the UKGC. The sites not on GamStop are regularly mentioned in google searches, while reviews and information can be found in online forums.
It is also the responsibility of the gaming company comply with the regulations for selling their services in the UK and consumers are not liable for any breach of the rules.
Consumers are free to choose the services they wish to partake in online, and many are signed up to non-UK sites in other areas such as Forex trading. The use of alternative casinos should not be used as a loophole to get around the GamStop regulations. The rules were introduced for a reason and only those who are comfortable with their betting habits should consider a less regulated environment.
What to expect at Non-UK Casinos
Punters are increasingly moving to non-UK casinos for a free online gaming experience. When choosing to sign up with non-UK casinos, punters will find that there are much less limitations on gameplay, such as stake sizes, spin timers, or deposit methods.
Another part of the UKGC conditions was to ban the use of credit cards for betting site deposits. This option is still available on sites not in the UK, while cryptocurrencies are also being accepted.
Although the game titles will be different from those on UK sites, the selection of games can be much larger when choosing sites outside of GamStop.
Sports Betting Sites Not on GamStop
The option of using sites outside of the GamStop scheme also extends to sports betting sites. Punters using these sports betting platforms can take advantage of unlimited payment transfers, while there are usually more generous welcome bonuses of 100% or more. These welcome bonuses can also be matched up to £500 in some cases.
The full range of sports seen in the UK will be available such as football, rugby, tennis, US sports etc. E-sports are another booming industry and these are also covered outside of the UK.
Slots Not on GamStop
Slots at the sites not on GamStop are another option and these will have a wider range of game titles than some of the UK sites because of the same UKGC marketing restrictions. The titles in these sites are different to UK sites, but there is still a lot of options for experienced slots players to enjoy. Slots sites will have even larger welcome offers of 500% of more, up to £1,000 or £2,000.
GamStop sites in the UK have seen a clampdown on their ability to offer bonuses and that is another downside for consumers.
Pros of Using Non-UK Casinos
- Large welcome bonuses
- Less restrictions on stakes, no spin timers
- Larger game libraries than UK sites
- Self-exclusion is still an option
- Wide range of funding methods, including Bitcoin
Cons of Using Non-UK Casinos
- Sites can be used as a GamStop loophole
- May not provide GBP deposits
- UK game titles may not be available
- Separate regulatory environment from the UK
- Limited access to third-party dispute resolution
For UK gamblers looking to make the switch to non-UK casinos the choices are growing. Signing up to casinos not on GamStop can take punters back to the environment that existed in the UK around five years ago when the industry was booming and there were little restrictions on gaming.
GamStop is still an important scheme for tackling problem gambling and these sites outside of Britain should not be used to bend the rules. However, for those who have more control over their playing habits, a self-exclusion of 1 or 5- years is extreme, while the restrictions are expanding into gameplay and the value of bonuses etc.
If you are finding the new UKGC casino rules too restrictive then maybe the time is right to give non-UK casinos a try.
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