British Gambling Commission Advocates for Responsible Gambling Amid Covid-19 PandemicApril 9, 2020 John Isaac
On Thursday the 26th of March 2020, the British Gambling Commission chair, Neil McArthur, issued a statement to online gambling operators reminding them of the importance of consumer protection and responsible marketing in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic. The chair acknowledged that the outbreak of the novel virus is wrecking havoc in multiple sectors across all corners of the globe but despite that the gambling sector still has a responsibility to its clients.
“Given the massive increase in the number of people who will be at home for the major part of the day, licenses must make sure their standards of consumer protection remain as high as possible,” remarked Mr. McArthur. He went on to further confirm that there has been a significant increase in activity pertaining to online slots, poker, casino gaming, and virtual sports.
Protection from Gambling Effects
The chair was quick to reaffirm that despite the increase in gambling activity, the commission is devoted to protecting vulnerable groups from the effects of gambling. “Protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed by gambling has always been a major priority and we are very mindful,” reaffirmed Mr. McArthur.
Not only is it the commissions responsibility to protect vulnerable people from the effects of gambling, but that of gamblers themselves as well. The chair also noted that the recent increase in gambling activity puts vulnerable groups at an increased risk of harm.
“Gambling license holders must act responsibly particularly around affordability checks. They must be mindful of the fact that customers may be facing financial uncertainty, loneliness, and anxiety during this time,” added Mr. McArthur. He encouraged operators to step in as soon as they noted signs of harmful behaviour from their players.
The commission advises gambling operators and affiliates to ensure that their marketing efforts remain socially responsible.
“Marketing efforts must not exploit the current situation for financial gains. Operators should be extremely cautious when cross-selling players on new verticals following the cancellation of all major sports events,” remarked the commission chief.
The commission confirmed that it would punish any irresponsible gambling operations. “If we see irresponsible behaviour, we will step in immediately. Whilst I know that the current climate is unprecedented, gambling operators must play their part in making sure that people are kept safe,” commented chief McArthur.
The impact of the covid-19 pandemic is being monitored by the gambling regulator’s programme director for industry insight, Ben Haden. The director will collate all information about the impact for a report.
The commission’s intervention came after the Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) asked the gambling sector to impose a daily spending limit of £50 during this outbreak period.
“As our daily lives become increasingly restricted and bars, pubs and other entertainment venues close, millions of people will now be at home with time on their hands,” reads a letter from the group addressed to the trade association of Betting and Gaming council. It went on to further read, “Many will turn to mini casinos on their mobile phones for entertainment. Some of these people will never have considered online gambling before while others will have spent years trying to avoid it.”