Defects arise in schedule designed to stop online gamblers

An investigation into a scheme designed to help problem gamblers by banishing them from wed sites has revealed that people are able to beat the system.

GamStop, a free, independent self-exclusion plan for people with online gambling problems, was launched in April 2018 and more than 50,000 people have signed up to date.

Gamblers who register for the scheme may not place bets on gambling websites after they have registered their data and choose how long they should be banned.

David Bradford (right), 62, from Waterthorpe, Sheffield, kept his addiction - which cost him up to £ 30,000 a year - a secret from his wife Denise, left, and his three children, including Adam (middle) living with the BBC to reveal shortcomings in Gamstop

David Bradford (right), 62, from Waterthorpe, Sheffield, kept his addiction – which cost him up to £ 30,000 a year – a secret from his wife Denise, left, and his three children, including Adam (middle) living with the BBC to reveal shortcomings in Gamstop

But BBC Radio 5's live research showed that a gambler who had signed up for the schedule could create new online betting accounts simply by changing their user data, including spelling of a surname.

In response to the disclosure, Gamion Fiona Palmer admitted that the service was not working well enough.

Adam Bradford, from Sheffield, conducts campaigns to raise awareness around the risk of online gambling.

He was inspired to take up his job after his father David had made his family bankrupt by losing more than £ 500,000 by playing online slot machines.

David spent up to £ 30,000 a year – and kept his gambling secret for his wife Denise63

Adam registered with Gamstop, but a few days later he was able to open a new online gambling account – by changing a letter in his name.

Adam, who was offered £ 50 free bets after registering on the sites, said that other people had told him how easy it was to bypass the exclusion system.

He told the BBC: "I think it's outrageous – it means that the hundreds of thousands of gambling addicts across the country are not protected. The industry explains what I think is a façade. It does not work & # 39 ;.

When the main director of GamStop, Mrs. Palmer, presented the findings, he said: & # 39; We take over the feedback and we want to improve the scheme & # 39;

The Gambling Commission, which regulates the sector, said that he was looking for stricter ID checks.

It is soon expected to announce the results of a consultation on ID verification on online gambling sites in order to prevent that gamblers use incorrect data.

The BBC also found errors in the self-exclusion plan for high street bookmakers.

A five live producer used Multi-Operator Self Exclusion Scheme (MOSES) to ban himself from 21 gambling stores in Grimsby – but was still able to deploy in 19 of them.

David Bradford, 59, from Sheffield, kept his addiction secret from his wife Denise, 63, and his three children

David Bradford, 59, from Sheffield, kept his addiction secret from his wife Denise, 63, and his three children

David Bradford, 59, from Sheffield, kept his addiction secret from his wife Denise, 63, and his three children

In response to the revelation, operators of the scheme, the Senet Group, said that "lessons would be learned. & # 39;

Twelve months later, another BBC producer banned itself from 20 of the same gambling stores in Grimsby.

Nevertheless, he was allowed to place bets in 15 of them.

The findings were received with criticism from the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) – who said it was disappointed & # 39; was with them.

The professional association was encouraged by the results of an investigation of real participants in the scheme.

An independent survey conducted by charity GambleAware found that & # 39; 83% said that the scheme was effective in reducing or halting their gambling activity.

It also appeared that 71% said they have not tried to use their nominated gambling stores since they have signed up.

The Senet Group, which uses the financing of bookmakers to implement the scheme, was disappointed with the results.

Senet is of the opinion that MOSES is an important first step for people who really want to reduce their gambling & # 39 ;.

Shadow culture secretary Tom Watson promised to bring the findings of the BBC to the government as he thinks they prove the investigation showed that the two schemes are "not suitable for the intended purpose".

Labor MP Carolyn Harris, chairman of a group of MEPs on gambling-related damage, adds: "Any system that is so easy to manipulate is not worth it – they must be robust enough to withstand deliberate attempts to protect them. to bypass. & # 39;

For more information about the research, you can vote for 5 live surveys on 11 GMT on Sunday, January 13 on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Sounds.

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