The company that’s in the business of stopping you accessing online gambling

There’s plenty of reasons why stopping people from accessing online gambling might be a good thing.

GamBlock's mission is simple - giving people the power to block online gambling. Picture: ThinkStock.
GamBlock’s mission is simple – giving people the power to block online gambling. Picture: ThinkStock.

You might be trying to prevent a problem gambler from returning to their old destructive habits. You might be a company boss looking to tighten up on what staff are doing, or you may work at a school or college where access to such sites would be inappropriate.

It is no surprise then, that there’s a marketplace out there for software that stops those internet browsers from wandering on to something they shouldn’t.

That’s what GamBlock has been catering for since 2000, thanks to Australian David Warr, a software developer. Back in 2000, online gambling was certainly ‘a thing’ but now it is a multibillion dollar industry – meaning the demand is bigger than ever.

How GamBlock was born

It was back in the year of the new millennium that David watched a TV program that claimed that accessing online gambling was something that could not be blocked. That then precipitated an all-night session of furious work to come up with a proof of concept to show that it could in fact be done.

Since then the company has grown, with first the USA being the biggest marketplace, and now Europe also offering a significant customer base. Typical customers are educational institutions, businesses, entertainment venues, including casinos themselves, as well as individuals.

David’s background was in children’s software, and the GamBlock site itself is keen to point out that this software isn’t driven by a moral objection to gambling – it maintains that it is neutral on the matter – but simply recognises that in some cases, having its software might be necessary.

Keeping up with the times

For every restriction to online gambling, their seems to be a workaround. VPN networks, gambling through anonymous networks like Tor and using remote servers are all ways people find their way to prohibited sites.

GamBlock has been available since 2000.
GamBlock has been available since 2000.

As things get increasingly sophisticated, so too has GamBlock had to adapt, and typically, it is the very young, and those most vulnerable, who are often the most technically savvy.

“Most school students know that geo-location can be circumvented. Some help groups and gambling vendors have unsuccessfully tried to use geo-location to constrict gambling to their region, which can easily be circumvented via Virtual Private Networks, proxies, onion gambling, otherwise known as anonymous gambling protocols, such as Tor Enabled Anonymous E-Gambling on Darknet, remote servers and the like.
David Warr, GamBlock

Another necessary feature is the GamBlock Lock Online Location, where responsible gaming vendors can spot those who are heading towards a problem early, and block them from the site.

The block list can include one or a number of sites, but will allow a non-problem gambler to play via responsible sites or apps, no matter where they are in the world, or while anonymously surfing.

Knowing every trick in the book

Determined gamblers will try all possible means to gain access to their preferred sites. One of the first ports of call is to simply wipe the PC and reinstall Windows. GamBlock, however, will let you keep all of its files while doing this.

And, as mentioned, Tor is one way around many safety barriers, and while GamBlock does prevent access via Tor, it also does not block access to other non-gambling sites via the anonymous network, so they are still usable.

GamBlock is not Cloud-based so will not underperform if the network is slow. Apps will not only be prevented from being downloaded, but also from being opened.

In terms of gambling sites, the software doesn’t rely on a list of sites that needs to be constantly updated. The danger with this is that it allows a ‘grace period’ where the sites can be accessed before they are blocked off.

David said: “GamBlock uses sophisticated heuristics that block new gambling sites worldwide, unlike simple web address filters that require constant updating of website lists. For example, if a new gambling site is published, GamBlock will block it, whereas other programs leave problem gamblers exposed until they add new gambling sites to their list, during which time money can be lost.”

Managing GamBlock

The other element of GamBlock is how it is shown on the desktop computer itself. There is the option of not showing it in the programs menu, and there is the choice of showing when gambling is blocked as well as other messages like renewals and updates.

And gambling today now takes many forms. GamBlock allows users to block things like sports scores, individual sites, stock trading sites and fantasy betting. Administrators or individuals can also monitor data, including number of attempts to access online gambling sites.

Going mobile

Gambling on the go continues to grow at a rapid rate, and the days of people sitting around a cumberstome desktop computer simply to place a bet are not gone, but there is clearly a new kid in town.

There isn’t much that can’t be done from a mobile phone these days, and of course, gambling is no exception. Therefore GamBlock has also had to adapt to this sea-change. On Android and Apple, users can self-exclude themselves from sites, irreversibly.

As with any software, it will need to be ready for the next technological advancement to remain a success.

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