UK Gambling Commission issues new lockdown guidance for operators

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has introduced new lockdown measures for remote operators to comply with. 

Previously-implemented player safety restrictions have also been reiterated. 

According to the Commission, tighter controls were needed after new research data found that some players’ gambling habits had changed during the lockdown. 

Operators have been told that they must bring new measures into play as soon as possible. 

What has the UKGC introduced? 

The governing body’s new rules for gaming brands are as follows. 

  • All reverse withdrawal options for customers must be stopped until further notice. 
  • Bonus offers and promotions must be ceased to all customers that display ‘harm indications’. 
  • Direct contact is required between the operator and all players that have played more than an hour’s session of single play. 
  • Review safer gambling thresholds and triggers for new customers. 
  • Conduct further affordability checks on players displaying indications of harm. 
  • Enforce immediate deposit limits and blocks on customers that show signs of harmful behaviour. 
  • Ensure a comprehensive monitoring of customer bases, identifying dangerous play and spending habits. 

All of the above will be periodically reviewed by the UKGC and, depending on the circumstances, could change. 

Why did the UKGC decide to introduce new player safety measures?

The Commission grew concerned following new data collected by YouGov. 

Since the UK went into lockdown in mid-March, gambling participation has dropped. In part, this is due to both the absence of major sporting events and closure of land-based outlets. 

Despite the above being true, a number of players have sought to find entertainment elsewhere. One of YouGov’s statistics revealed that 64% of ‘engaged gamblers’ have “increased either the amount of time or money they have spent on one or more types of gambling, including National Lottery products”. 

Along with confirming the introduction of these new rules, UKGC Chief Executive Neil McArthur also said that further measures would be brought in if deemed necessary. 

“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. 

“Work was already underway to address many of these issues but this means we will now accelerate this work due to the unique situation that many consumers will find themselves in during lockdown. ‘

’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.”

What else must operators consider?

The UKGC has also told operators to remind themselves of Social Responsibility Code Provision 3.4.1, introduced in October 2019. As part of this, licensees are required to interact with possible problem gamblers and minimise the risks involved. 

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