As the situation with COVID-19 continues to impact daily life in Great Britain, the Gambling Commission is following Public Health England guidance and is calling on licenced gambling operators to implement additional measures in order to minimise their employees and customers’ exposure to the pandemic risks.
In line with the Social Responsibility Code provisions, the Gambling Commission licensees must interact with customers in a way which minimises the risk harms associated with gambling. According to the Commission’s guidance on customer interaction, the licensees should identify customers who may be at risk of experiencing gambling harms, interact with customers to prevent the risks and evaluate the impact of the interaction.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdown, on the 13th of May the UK Gambling Commission issued additional formal guidance for remote operators during COVID-19 outbreak. Licensees should ensure they have additional preventive measures implemented into their customer interaction framework.
The most important initiative requires the licensed operators to monitor the amount of time and money that players spend during the pandemic, and to intervene if this increases compared to pre-crisis levels. Operators are advised to review their time indicators to capture play in excess of 1 hour as this is a proxy for potential harm and might require interaction.
The thresholds and triggers of vulnerability should be reviewed to reflect changed financial circumstances that many consumers will be experiencing. Additional thresholds and triggers might be set specifically for new customers considering the operators lack of knowledge of that individual’s play and spend patterns.
Reverse withdrawal options for customers to be stopped until further notice. Customers displaying signs of gambling harms should not receive bonus offers or promotions. Operators will also increase safer gambling messaging directed at all consumers across their websites and apps.
Timely identifying and interacting with customers at risk might help to prevent or significantly reduce the impact of gambling related harms in times of pandemic. These measures will be kept under periodic review by the Gambling Commission.