Gambling Commission reminds operators of player responsibilities amid new lockdown

By Iqbal Johal

The Gambling Commission has reminded operators to be extra vigilant during a new national lockdown across Great Britain which could result in a rise in online gambling.

Last week, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a stay at home order for the public in England on 4 January, which is likely to last until at least the end of March.

It means all non-essential businesses must close, including the whole land-based gambling sector, with people only encouraged to leave their homes for limited reasons, such as exercise.

As a result, Gambling Commission CEO Neil McArthur warned “extra operator vigilance is needed” with most people spending more time at home and potentially feeling more isolated and vulnerable, and the fact elite sport is able to continue which could lead to more opportunities to gamble.

McArthur expects online operators to follow the guidance issued during the first lockdown in March, while following consumer activity data, interacting directly where triggers are reached and avoiding temptation to exploit the current situation for marketing purposes.

He added that the Gambling Commission will continue to “take steps to permanently strengthen regulatory requirements” and “monitor operators and consumer behaviour very closely and conduct compliance assessments.”

The guidance issued last May includes online operators interacting with customers who have been playing for at least an hour in a single session of play, reviewing thresholds for new customers and conducting affordability assessments on players experiencing harm.

In conclusion, McArthur said: “The gambling industry and daily life as a whole continues to be impacted by the pandemic and whilst there is some light and hope ahead with the vaccine, I want to ensure operators are clear of our expectations.

“Operators must now more than ever, continue to be vigilant to protect their customers.”

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