The UK Gambling Commission is once again concerned that the national lockdown in England may cause problem gamblers to face new battles.
It has, therefore, issued a fresh reminder to online gambling operators, asking them to ensure that they are protecting their customers to the best of their abilities.
Studies carried out during previous lockdowns have shown that spending more time at home causes some players to increase their online gambling activities due to boredom. But the UKGC isn’t just worried about the latest lockdown having the same effect on the population. It’s also concerned that some may take the opportunity to gamble for the first time.
The Commission’s National Strategic Assessment that was published in early November 2020 sets out the latest issues that the organisation faces, as well as the risks that gambling potentially poses to the public. It includes a section on how COVID-19 has previously impacted gamblers along with the steps that the Commission has taken over the past year to try and make gambling safer for all.
The UKGC’s latest reminder to gambling operators refers them to its National Strategic Assessment, while also underlining that it is closely monitoring the situation and will not hesitate to “take further action if we deem it necessary”.
The Commission goes on to tell UK operators that it expects them to continue to follow its latest strengthened guidance, which was updated as a result of its findings from the first national lockdown.
The steps that it wishes operators to take to ensure that their customers are protected from gambling harms include:
Closely following individuals’ playing and spending patterns
Interacting with players when triggers are reached
Issuing email reminders to customers about playing safely,
Refraining from using lockdown as an excuse to promote their services,
Carrying out strict affordability checks when accepting new customers.
The UKGC is determined that the pandemic will not leave additional problems created by gambling to burden the various overstretched services that are in place to help those with problems that could be prevented be operators being pro-active.