Wednesday, 13 May 2020

UKGC Announces New Guidelines To Protect Players During Lockdown

Gambling Addiction

The UK Gambling Commission has announced new guidelines for gambling operators to better protect players during the UK’s COVID-19 lockdown.

The UK’s gambling regulator published the guidelines yesterday (May 12) which they believe will help players during the pandemic, many of whom are at great risk of harm. According to the Commission, the new measures include the need for affordability checks, the prevention of reverse withdrawals, as well as restrictions on bonus offers.

In a statement on the Gambling Commission website, the regulatory body announced that online gambling operators must now prevent reverse withdrawals for customers until further notice, cease offering bonuses and promotions to customers displaying signs of gambling-related harm, and they must interact with customers who have been playing an hour in a single session of play.

Additional guidelines require operators to review the thresholds and triggers for new customers, conduct mandatory affordability checks and limiting or blocking play until said checks have been completed, and operators must implement processes to monitor their customer base and identify any changes in behaviour or spend.

The Gambling Commission, which recently donated £9 million to help fight problem gambling, has urged all gambling operators to follow the new guidelines immediately and act on the changes as soon as possible. The regulatory body has revealed plans to consult on whether or not additional player protection measures will be required during the lockdown and on a permanent basis.

What They Say

Neil McArthur, the Commission’s Chief Executive, said in a statement: “Operators must use the data they hold to protect their customers and now, more than ever, it’s vital that online operators really know their customers by monitoring how long they are playing for and understanding them and what they can afford to gamble with. To ensure operators do that, we are strengthening our guidance and expect operators to take account of that to prevent bonus offers or inducements being offered to customers who are showing any sign of harm.”

He continued: “We will continue to monitor and publish the data that we are collecting and we will take further measures if required. We are monitoring online operators closely and if we see irresponsible behaviour we will step in immediately, suspending licenses if we need to.”

Nigel Huddleston, the Minister for Sports, Tourism, and Heritage, added: “It is vital that people are protected from the threat of gambling-related harm and I welcome these latest steps from the Gambling Commission. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will not hesitate to take further action if required.”

The new measures have been implemented after the Commission published data suggesting that some gamblers are more at risk during the lockdown. However, data collected through the gambling industry and several YouGov surveys revealed that gambling participation has fallen during the lockdown but there has been a shift in the use of online gambling activities such as video slots, poker, casino games, and virtual sports.