BetBlocker: A Tool Born Out of Casino Complaints
With the online gambling industry posting continuous positive growth and the ubiquity of online casinos on mobile devices, issues pertaining to players’ gambling impulses getting the best of them have also exacerbated. The POGG, an independent casino gaming portal and dispute resolutions provider, knows these issues all to well. Through its Alternative Dispute Resolution service (read here), the site has come across numerous cases where players ended up losing a huge chunk of their money because of their gambling habits. Examples of these disputes include that of players under a self-exclusion list who were allowed to deposit and their subsequent winnings then voided by the online casinos. Aside from that, for whatever reasons these players are caught up in a complaint, thepogg.com has encountered numerous players that suffer from gambling addiction.
As a result of these issues, the POGG started work on BetBlocker. Headed by Duncan Garvie, this initiative seeks to help players rein in their impulsive gambling habits by restricting access to thousands of e-gambling sites and services through a downloadable app. Initially, the app was only available for desktop (PC/Mac). Just recently though, an update has made the service available on the Google Play Store as well.
How does BetBlocker work?
BetBlocker is a gambling self restriction app that players download on their computers (and now, mobile devices) for free. Once installed, players can then set the app to restrict their access to online gambling sites and services for a certain amount of time. The app is able to restrict access to as many as 5900 online gambling sites on the desktop and over a thousand gambling (and related) apps on the Google Play Store. As for the length of time, players can choose anywhere from 24 hours up to 5 years. After setting up/activating the self restriction features of the app, players won’t be able to deactivate it until the length of time they set their restriction is up/finished.
What Sets BetBlocker Apart?
Do note that BetBlocker isn’t the only self-regulation app in the market today. Gamban and GAMSTOP are two of the most notable options that are also available for players. With that said, BetBlocker still ends up being the better choice for players due to two reasons: availability and cost.
GAMSTOP has been around since 2018 and is a free self-regulation solution that players will need to register to. Once registered, players won’t be allowed to open accounts or play in online casinos and betting sites in the UK. The kicker is that the service is mainly targeted at UK-facing players and online gambling sites. If they’re outside of the UK, then players can still wager on online casinos not licensed by the UKGC. Additionally, players (even if they’re in the UK) will still have access to GAMSTOP partnered gambling sites though they won’t be able to login and wager. On the other hand, BetBlocker does not have any geographical restrictions. Players from all over the world can download the app and it’ll completely block access to thousands of gambling sites (not just in the UK but the world over). By blocking access to the sites themselves (and not just the ability login and/or deposit), the app will also help prevent complaints mentioned earlier that the POGG constantly has to contend.
Gamban is another notable self-regulation app that is also available on both desktop and mobile platforms. On the surface, it functions similarly to BetBlocker in that it isn’t restricted to just one jurisdiction and can block a sizable number of gambling sites and apps. However, using the app (whether on desktop or mobile) will require players to shell out at least $13.99 per year. In contrast, BetBlocker does the same thing at no cost to the player. As a matter of fact, the POGG doesn’t get any money from its download and use. The app is completely free of any advertisements and it also doesn’t gather any sensitive information from the players that use it.
Of course, the POGG isn’t making any claims that BetBlocker will completely cure a player of their gambling addiction. The app is, more than anything, a tool that’s supposed to help in limiting a player’s access to online gambling sites. It’s still possible for players to gamble in brick and mortar gambling establishments if they choose to.
Much like other self-regulation tools, it’s also possible for some online casinos to not be included in the BetBlocker’s block. Additionally, there might be instances where regular, non-gambling websites also get blocked by the app. In both of these instances, players can always get in touch with the BetBlocker development team to add or remove sites to the app’s restricted list. Typically, players will only need to wait 24 hours for a site to be restricted.
Countering Gambling Addiction by Fostering Community
The POGG and its BetBlocker development team understand all too well the detrimental effects gambling addiction can have on individuals and the people around them. As Duncan Gavrie noted:
With ThePOGG complaints service we've seen growing volumes of complaints related to Responsible Gambling as time has passed. Some of the stories that have crossed my desk have been extremely harrowing, with the complainants in truly desperate situations. Where we could help these individuals recover money, it was often a drop in the ocean beside the scope of their situation and the outcome often left me wondering whether we'd really helped these people or whether their addiction would simply lead them to lose the recovered funds elsewhere.
"With ThePOGG complaints service we've seen growing volumes of complaints related to Responsible Gambling as time has passed. Some of the stories that have crossed my desk have been extremely harrowing, with the complainants in truly desperate situations. Where we could help these individuals recover money, it was often a drop in the ocean beside the scope of their situation and the outcome often left me wondering whether we'd really helped these people or whether their addiction would simply lead them to lose the recovered funds elsewhere."
Further exacerbating these players’ plights is the fact that a lot of online gambling jurisdictions and regulatory bodies have weak or in some cases, virtually no safeguards in place for them.
The app is essentially powered by the feedback from users that help to report bugs and help towards making the app effective. These players are desperate for solutions to quit gambling especially online where online casinos are accessible 24 hours a day and anywhere. The feedback given has first helped to create the app and that same feedback is making the app the best it can be.
This community-centric approach, along with the fact that it’s free to use and has no geo-restrictions, is what makes BetBlocker more than just a great self-exclusion tool. While this might not entirely eliminate gambling addiction and the issues that come with it, the tool is still extremely helpful in helping players rein in their impulsive gambling habits.