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BetBlocker launches gambling app restrictions for Android

by ThePOGG - June 26, 2019

The team at BetBlocker are very please to announce the launch of the latest new feature to help their users control damaging gambling impulses – the addition of the restriction of gambling related apps on Android devices!

This update follows on from almost 2 years of development work that has been invested in the BetBlocker project and allows Android users to restrict their access to gambling apps that have proliferated with the rapid expansion of day to day use of mobile devices to access the internet. The boom in ‘anytime anywhere’ browsing habits means that every mobile phone doubles as a mobile gambling outlet and for those with a addiction issues represents a significant barrier to gaining control.

Manager of BetBlocker, Duncan Garvie, had this to say about the new feature:

“With more and more people accessing gambling via their mobile devices it is more important than ever that there is a resource available for those who feel that gambling is getting on top of them to take action to help themselves limit their exposure to this addictive activity. Restricting gambling apps further improves our service for Android users, limiting one more avenue of access.”

What is BetBlocker?

BetBlocker is a free tool that users can download onto their internet capable devices that will restrict the device from accessing over 5.9k gambling operator websites. This most recent update (version 10.2) will see Android users also restricted from accessing over 1k gambling related apps in the Play Store. Even if the app is installed before BetBlocker is activated, the user will not be able to access the app once a restriction is put in place.

When setting up a Gambling Self Restriction users can choose their own restriction length, anywhere from 24 hours to 5 years. Once activated the user will not be able to deactivate the restriction until the full selected restriction period has concluded. Users can also choose to include gambling information sites in their restriction, to ensure that they are not exposed to advertising for gambling or other sites that might challenge their self-control.

How does BetBlocker differ from other Responsible Gambling programs and softwares currently on the market?

There are several other software type tools available on the market that look to achieve a similar outcome to BetBlocker, but all of these currently charge users a subscription fee for access. When asked about this, Mr Garvie had this to say:

“Gambling addicts all have one thing in common by the time they are looking to place barriers between themselves and gambling services: they’ve lost too much money. Many of the user we’ve interacted with via BetBlocker support are in dire situations, often resulting in them being unsure where they are going to find money for food, shelter and clothing for themselves and their families. Any price barrier to this type of service is going to be too high for these users and ultimately ensure that the most vulnerable and desperate users are the ones excluded.”

Alongside this, BetBlocker uses an ‘exact match’ system rather than ‘keyword frequency’ restrictions. Keyword frequency restrictions look to scan each page before it loads, which can slow browsing speeds, and restricts pages that contain certain keywords. This can ultimately result ‘false positives/negatives’ where pages being restricted that are not actually gambling pages, simply because they discuss a theme or topic related to gambling or gambling pages are missed where they don’t contain the focus keywords. The exact match system ensures that only urls that are confirmed to be gambling urls are restricted.

The other major exclusion scheme that is widely recognised is Gamstop. This is a UK based program that allows UK players to sign-up to exclude with all gambling operators licensed in the UK, placing the onus on the operators to enforce the restriction after this point. Gamstop is free to users and a great starting point for any player in the UK. The weaknesses of this scheme however are that it isn’t currently available to players outside the UK, only includes UK licensed operators and relies on the player maintaining matching registration details with Gamstop to those they use when registering with a gambling operator. BetBlocker offers a complimentary service to Gamstop that is available to everyone, restricts operators regardless of where they are licensed and does not rely on matching registration information, instead simply preventing the registration happening.

Who is behind BetBlocker

BetBlocker was set-up by the team that runs ThePOGG.com. When asked about the reasons for this initiative Mr Garvie had this to say:

“Having managed thousands of disputes for ThePOGG.com I’ve come into contact with a large number of users who were in desperate situations. Often what we could do to help them as an Alternative Dispute Resolution service has been limited and we wanted to offer something that could genuinely make a difference to those people who came to us. We looked referring these users to other services that charged subscription fees, but I was never comfortable with the economics of this model.

BetBlocker was born of this discomfort. It is intended to be entirely free to users, without upfront fees, advertising and restricting data collection to only that which is used to assist our users with technical issues and improve the service.”

BetBlocker as a Community Project

The BetBlocker team are keen for everyone to see the tool as a “Community Project”. We have some great systems in place to collect and restrict new gambling operations as they come online but no system will ever be perfect in the online environment, especially where gambling operators are weakly regulated. The biggest resource to improve and extend the restriction to ensure that users are protected is THE USERS. An in app features allows users to report any url they’ve been able to access. By reporting sites or apps that you find that the restriction misses you help us improve the restriction for thousands of active users. Reporting a url may seem like a small thing to do but can make a huge difference to a large number of other users who are at risk from these services. On average 10 urls a day are added to the restriction due to reports from users. The service is improved and strengthened by the users who need it and every single user can make a difference to the tool as a whole.

With users working together BetBlocker will continue to improve and offer an ever more comprehensive tool to assist the growing number of people struggling with gambling addiction.