Gambling is popular in the UK and across the world. Land-based casinos have existed for several decades and are the predicate for modern online websites. In the UK, gambling activity is under the regulation of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), which sets various requirements and standards all licensed platforms must comply with to retain their license.

Recently, the UKGC introduced GamStop, a voluntary self-exclusion scheme aimed at helping problem gamblers. All UKGC licensed gambling websites must join GamStop, which entails restricting players who have voluntarily registered to the self-exclusion program. However, traditional land-based casinos still exist across the UK.

Generally, GamStop only applies to online platforms, and land-based casinos have unique self-exclusion programs of their own. Here’s a quick overview of GamStop, including how it works online and offline.

What is GamStop?

GamStop is a self-exclusion program that allows players to commit to self-restraint from gambling voluntarily. Once you are registered on GamStop, you won’t play games provided by UKGC licensed casinos. However, GamStop is only one of many gambling regulators in the worldwide casino industry. Curacao, Malta, Alderney, the US, Canada, Australia, and other regions have credible regulators that approve and oversee casino activity in their respective jurisdictions.

GamStop only applies to UKGC licensed casinos, which target online gambling platforms in the UK. There’s no law against playing games provided by casinos licensed outside the UK, so players can still find casinos at that aren’t on GamStop. Note that playing on non GamStop casinos offers little protection and help for players with genuine gambling issues. However, they are ideal if you registered on GamStop by mistake.

If you need to refrain from gambling, GamStop may be helpful. You can also find alternatives like Gamban, Gamcare, Gamblock, and more. These programs help you block gambling activity for a specified period, perfect when looking to self-exclude. GamStop requirements involve robust KYC procedures during sign-up to help casinos gather enough information to determine players registered on self-exclusion. If you are on GamStop, you won’t be able to play real money games offered by UKGC licensed casinos.

Does GamStop Work Offline?

No, GamStop is designed for online casinos. All operators licensed by the UKGC are obliged to join GamStop and collect ID information required to identify blocked players. If you are on GamStop, you can play games provided by casinos licensed outside the UK. You also face no restrictions on land-based casinos. Offline casinos have a unique self-exclusion program known as SENSE (self enrollment national self exclusion). SENSE is designed for all UKGC-licensed land-based casinos and has many similarities with GamStop.

SENSE is the offline self-exclusion version of GamStop, in the SENSE that it blocks you from accessing land-based casinos once you are registered on the program. Like GamStop, SENSE is a voluntary program, so you can choose to self-exclude for a specified period, within which land-based casinos will close access to your accounts. Casinos are also required to stop sending any marketing and advertising material during the self-exclusion duration unless you change this during registration.

SENSE is operated by National Casino Forum (NCF) on behalf of UK offline casinos. Casinos that are part of the program will restrict you from playing real money games for your enrolled duration. To join, you must complete a form that’s processed within seven days. After that, your membership and loyalty programs with all UK land-based casinos will be suspended.

Like GamStop, the minimum self-exclusion period is six months, and it only applies to UK-based casinos. You can still play in other countries if you are on vacation. If you are determined to take a break from gambling, you should register for both GamStop and SENSE. However, if you accidentally registered on GamStop, there are various ways around restrictions.


GamStop is an excellent database of players with gambling issues. It is also advisable to consider using other tools like Gamban, Gamblock, Gamcare, and Net Nanny. If you are ready to resume playing or accidentally registered on self-exclusion, you can play games on non GamStop casinos. However, joining offshore sites has various drawbacks, and not all offers are desirable. Make sure you review each casino and join trusted, licensed sites with fair games.