It can be incredibly hard to admit you have a gambling problem. It can feel even harder to get gambling help.
Yet you should know you are not alone in needing to seek support. UK charity BeGambleAware’s annual report for 2019/20 showed the huge impact gambling can have on people’s lives – 12% of respondents had lost a job due to gambling, while more than a quarter had seen a relationship end. A total of 71% of respondents were in gambling debt.
That’s why it is so important to familiarise yourself with the steps you can take to get things back under control. And one of the most helpful tools you can use is gambling self-exclusion.
It is also important to remember that seeking help, including self-exclusion, is not an admission of guilt nor is it a statement of having gambling debt. What’s more, the self-exclusion services are confidential and using them will not affect your credit score.
» MORE: How to check your credit score
Below we look at some tips for managing your gambling, and explain the various ways you can implement self-exclusion.
Tips on how to manage your gambling problem
Firstly, there are some day-to-day behavioural changes you can make in order to battle your gambling addiction:
- When you feel the urge to gamble, try to delay your decision for as long as possible – this could involve going for a walk, reading, watching TV or speaking to someone. Even waiting just 10 minutes could be enough to change your mind.
- Plan your schedule to limit the amount of time you have to spend gambling.
- Spend more time with people who don’t gamble.
- Set monetary targets that give you extra reasons to drive your finances away from gambling, like planning a holiday.
- Find someone who can act as an accountability partner, be it to check a recovery diary or look over bank statements.
What is gambling self-exclusion?
If you think your gambling needs a harder stop, then self-exclusion is advisable.
When you self-exclude from gambling sites, it means you will no longer be able to access your online betting accounts for between 6 months and 5 years.
You also cannot cancel your self-exclusion once it has been put in place.
It is a way to enforce a long-term break from your gambling habits, and will give you time to reassess how gambling fits into your life.
Can I self-exclude from all gambling sites?
GAMSTOP is a free, independent service that allows you to self-exclude from all UK-licensed gambling sites in one go.
To try and ensure that the self-exclusion is as effective as possible, GAMSTOP requires a number of personal details. These include:
- Your date of birth.
- Your current address, and any previous addresses you have lived at.
- Your current email address and any previous email addresses you have used.
- Your current mobile number and any previous mobile numbers you have used.
When your chosen period ends, you won’t automatically be able to start gambling again. Instead, you will need to contact GAMSTOP and ask for the block to be removed. If you do not, your self-exclusion will continue.
You should also consistently update your email, home address and mobile phone details to make sure your self-exclusion remains comprehensive.
How to self-exclude from individual gambling sites
You can also self-exclude on a provider-by-provider basis.
Once you’ve self-excluded from a site, you should also be removed from their mailing and marketing lists.
On most major UK betting sites, you can find the self-exclude function under your account settings.
It will be labelled along the lines of ‘My Gambling Controls’, ‘Player Protection’ or ‘Responsible Gambling Tools’. Within that area of the site or app will be the option to self-exclude.
How to self-exclude from betting shops
As well as online gambling sites, you can self-exclude from betting shops using the Multi Operator Self Exclusion Scheme.
You will be asked what betting shops you already frequent, where you live, and which areas you visit for work and socialising. They will then map out all the betting shops they think you could visit, and pass on your details to these locations.
This will include an up-to-date and clear photograph of yourself, so you can be identified if you were then to enter one of these shops.
You can continuously update your request and ask for extra locations to be added during your self-exclusion.
The self-exclusion lasts for 12 months. If you wanted to resume gambling after this time, you would first have to go through a 24-hour ‘cooling off’ period before confirming your decision.
You can contact the Multi Operator Self Exclusion Scheme on 0800 294 2060.
What are the next steps to get gambling help
Self-exclusion alone may not be enough to stop your compulsive gambling, not least because it isn’t infallible. It works best when you use it alongside other tools, like gambling site blockers.
Gambling site blockers can be downloaded and installed on pretty much every device you can think of, and will prevent you from being able to reach the gambling site or app in question.
You can also contact your banking provider to freeze payments to those same sites.
» MORE: How to block gambling sites
As well as the practical steps like self-exclusion and blocking gambling sites, the importance of talking to someone about your gambling problem cannot be stressed enough.
More than anything, remember that you are not alone. Help is out there, and can be tailored to your specific needs.
Image source: Getty Images
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