The COVID-19 pandemic brought a new lockdown effective in England from this Thursday through December 2. Considering that casinos, as well as many other businesses, are now closed and a big part of the population will spend more time at home, the Gambling Commission asked the operators in the country to conduct online business responsibly.
UK Regulator Asks Operators to Keep Their Customers Safe
In light of the second lockdown in England which came into effect on Thursday this week, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) released a statement asking the license holders to continue operating responsibly and to protect gamblers from gambling-related harms. After observing spikes of positive COVID-19 cases, England introduced a four-week lockdown aiming at reducing the spread of the respiratory disease. Additional COVID-19 measures were also introduced in Scotland as well as Wales.
In its statement, the Gambling Commission outlined that because of the lockdown and closure of many businesses including casinos, many people will be spending more time at home. As a result, some of them may be feeling vulnerable due to their “personal, employment or financial circumstances“.
The Lockdown Circumstances Are Tough and Unsettling for Everyone
The Commission acknowledged that the current circumstances are “tough and unsettling” not only for the gambling operators but for everyone. The GC added that it has adapted to new ways of working since the first lockdown which was introduced in March. Furthermore, since the first lockdown, the Commission has gained a “clearer sense of the risks to consumers due to periods of lockdown as well as a clearer picture of the impacts on mental health and wellbeing“.
“It is vital that all operators play their part in keeping their customers safe and we will be continuing to conduct our compliance assessments during this month-long lockdown.”Neil McArthur, UKGC Chief Executive
Neil McArthur, the Commission’s chief executive said that it is vital for all operators to play their part in keeping their customers safe. He added that the GC will continue to conduct compliance assessments during the new lockdown period which will remain active until December 2. McArthur acknowledged that the GC will continue to collaborate with the Government and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and further updates will be provided when necessary.
GC Urges for Responsible Marketing and Compliance
The gambling operators are expected to act responsibly “especially around individual customer affordability checks and increased social responsibility interactions“, said the UKGC. Furthermore, the GC expects that the operators take a mindful approach that customers may be vulnerable or are experiencing financial uncertainty. The Gambling Commission outlined that a part of the active online gamblers may also experience isolation-related effects such as anxiety, boredom, or loneliness. If customers are showing signs of gambling-related harm or are at risk, operators are expected to step up quickly to resolve the situation.
“Consumer protection must be paramount,”reads the Gambling Commission’s statement
Besides the expectation for consumer protection, the UKGC outlined that marketing must also be conducted responsibly. New customers are expected to come on board “in a socially responsible way“, said the Commission. Moreover, according to the GC, the operators must not exploit the current lockdown situation for marketing purposes and should be very cautious when cross-selling products to consumers.
Last but not least, the Gambling Commission said that it expects the operators to comply with the license conditions and codes of practice. Customers are to expect fair treatment and clear communication which would allow them to make an informed decision whether to gamble or not, added the regulator. In conclusion, the Commission said that operators can cooperate with the Commission to “act in accordance with both the letter or the spirit of the regulatory framework” which was set.