UK gambling operators have been warned over their responsibilities on consumer protection during the COVID-19 pandemic by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).
The chair of the UKGC, Neil McArthur sent a message to gambling sector operators reminding them about the importance of both responsible marketing and consumer safeguarding. He said that as there will be a massive increase in the number of people likely to spending their days at home, operators had to ensure that they retained high standards, noting that there has already been a significant increase in uptake of poker, casino gaming, online slots and virtual sports:
“Protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed by gambling has always been a major priority and we are very mindful – as you should be – of the fact that the risks of harm arising from online gambling have increased as a result of recent events.”
McArthur said that licensees had to be responsible, particularly in the case of affordability checks. He also advised them to bear in mind that many customers will be facing anxiety, loneliness and financial uncertainty, and that operators should look out for signs of harmful gambling behaviour.
On marketing and promotions, the UKGC warned firms not to exploit the current situation and to ensure that their marketing was socially responsible, particularly when it came to cross-selling.
The impact of the ongoing crisis is being closely monitored by Ben Haden, who heads the UKGC Industry Insight Programme, and who is collating information for an upcoming report. But the UKGC appear to have stopped short of the suggested cap on daily spending put forward by politicians earlier this week. The Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group had called on the sector to introduce a £50 daily spending limit for the duration of the crisis.