Betting And Gaming Council Praises Results Of COVID Action Plan
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has issued a statement praising the results of its COVID action plan and highlighting how the campaign has helped encourage operators into supporting safer gambling.
The BGC’s 10-pledge plan was unveiled earlier this year at the start of the UK’s first coronavirus lockdown in March. The plan set out a series of new standards and conduct duties the BGC expected its online and brick-and-mortar members to follow throughout lockdown and the pandemic. All BGC members voluntarily agreed to follow the 10-pledge action plan back in March and recently reaffirmed their commitment amid England’s second lockdown.
The action plan’s new rules include the removal of all television and radio advertising, an increase in safer gambling messages across all websites and directly to customers, as well as the promotion of deposit limits and welfare checks for staff members. The action plan also requires BGC members to commit to making 20% of their television and radio advertisements safer gambling messages.
In a new report documenting the results of the BGC’s 10-pledge action plan, the Betting and Gaming Council found that the number of safer gambling messages on gambling websites had doubled since the launch of the action plan. The organisation also found that the number of individual customers directly receiving safer gambling messages had increased by a whopping 150%.
Interactions between gambling operators and customers improved too after the introduction of the action plan, with the number of customers receiving direct mail with safer gambling messages increasing by 89% to 11 million a month. Finally, the number of interventions by operators on players who had been spending more time or money than before the pandemic increased by 25%.
Commenting on the results, Michael Dugher, the Chief Executive of the BGC, said in a statement: “The Betting and Gaming Council was set up last year as a standards body committed to driving big changes across much of the regulated industry. These latest findings show that the BGC has led the way and is achieving real results on safer gambling.
“The introduction of the ten-pledge plan at the start of lockdown was further evidence of success – and our members re-affirmed their support for the pledges when the second lockdown began. It shouldn’t be forgotten that around 30 million people in Britain place a bet at least once a year, whether that is on the National Lottery, in betting shops, casinos or at the bingo, and the overwhelming majority do so without any problems.”
He continued: “But although the Gambling Commission has found no evidence of an increase in problem gambling during lockdown, and the Government says rates of problem gambling are around 0.7% and stable, we can and must do more to tackle it and protect vulnerable and at-risk customers.
“That is why we are looking forward to the Government beginning its Gambling Review so we can further improve standards, whilst ensuring that customers are not driven into the arms of the offshore illegal black market where there are no standards or safeguards.”
The BGC has extensively campaigned for the re-opening of casinos and betting shops across the UK following lockdowns. The organisation has also continued its mission to drive up standards within the gambling industry and reduce gambling-related harm by introducing new rules and regulations.
This has included a new code of conduct on the design and play of video slots, and the introduction of its Sixth Industry Code For Socially Responsible Advertising which requires BGC members to ensure social media campaigns are only targeted at people aged 25 or over. The BGC has also been working with the UK Gambling Commission to introduce new rules regarding the running of VIP Programmes at online casinos.
Casino And Betting Shop Re-Openings In England
The BGC’s report comes after England’s second lockdown comes to an end, allowing non-essential businesses including casinos and betting shops to re-open in certain regions. Last week, the organisation praised the UK Government’s decision to allow betting shops to re-open under all Tier restrictions including the highest but expressed disappointment at the required closure of casinos in Tier 3 areas.
Following the UK’s first coronavirus lockdown, betting shops were the only non-essential high street retail business forced to close in Tier 3 regions. Now, however, the UK Government has allowed betting shops to remain open under Tier 3, albeit with some heavy restrictions. They include limits on customers, the removal of chairs, and a ban on live sports being shown in addition to existing anti-COVID measures like perspex screens, track and trace systems, the implementation of hand sanitisation stands, as well as strict social distancing rules.
In addition to the re-opening of betting shops, casinos have been allowed to re-open in regions under Tier 1 and 2 restrictions, and racetracks and football stadiums and have been given the green light to allow a limited number of live spectators under Tier 1 and 2 restrictions. Both will be required to close off from customers in regions under Tier 3 restrictions.
While betting shops and casinos have been allowed to re-open in England from this week, things are seemingly getting tougher in Wales. This week, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford announced the implementation of new coronavirus restrictions from Friday, December 4th. Under the new rules, pubs, restaurants and cafes will be banned from service alcohol and will be unable to serve customers past 6 PM.
In addition, indoor entertainment venues such as museums, cinemas, galleries, bowling alleys, amusement arcades, and even bingo halls and casinos will all be required to close. According to the BBC, the new restrictions will remain in place until December 17 when the restrictions will be reviewed.
The news of new COVID rules in Wales comes three weeks after the country re-opened followings its two-week “fire break” coronavirus lockdown. The brief lockdown saw the closure of the country’s 360 betting shops and four casinos, most of which will once again be required to close their doors under the new rules implemented by Drakeford.