The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has issued new lockdown guidance and measures for online operators to adhere to.
According to the Commission, new evidence revealed that some gamblers may run a higher risk of developing problems right now. As such, they felt that tighter measures were needed.
The UKGC has called on operators to get tougher with their affordability checks. Moreover, they’re also obliged to stop reverse withdrawals and bonuses for those displaying symptoms of problem gambling.
Operators licensed in the UK have been asked to implement their new guidance and measures as soon as possible.
Gambling participation has dropped, but trends are changing
The absence of major sporting events has led to a drop in gambling. Retail betting outlet closures have also played a part. However, despite this, YouGov also found that COVID-19 has also altered player gambling habits.
One statistic from YouGov’s research revealed that since the lockdown began, ‘64% of more engaged gamblers’ said that they have either increased the time or amount of money they spend gambling. This accounts for ‘at least one gambling activity’ per person.
UKGC Chief Executive Neil McArthur said the following in relation to the new guidance.
“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 how financial uncertainty is impacting 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.
‘’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 licences if we need to.”
The new additional requirements for operators
In line with the UKGC’s requests, brands are obliged to implement the following actions as soon as possible.
- Stop all reverse withdrawal options for customers until further notice.
- Stop offering bonuses and promotions to players that display ‘harm indications’.
- Interact directly with all customers that have participated in ‘an hour single session of play’.
- Review safer gambling thresholds and triggers for new customers.
- Conduct further affordability checks on players displaying harm indications.
- Enforce immediate deposit limits and blocks on customers displaying harmful behaviour.
- Ensure a comprehensive monitoring of customer bases, identifying dangerous play and spending habits.
The UKGC is expected to bring forward plans to consult on whether or not these targeted player protection measures will become permanent.
New measures are already planned to be brought in by the commission later this year, including a code of conduct for affiliates.