Gambling Commission CEO Writes to Operators Again
The Gambling Commission CEO Neil McArthur has once again written to gambling companies to remind them of their responsibilities as the UK enters another lockdown.
Neil McArthur, the Gambling Commission’s Chief executive, has written to operators to remind them of their duty of care to customers during a new lockdown in the UK.
McArthur said the Commission knows that customer behaviour changes during lockdowns and is constantly monitoring monthly operator and consumer data. If the Commission identifies any operators profiteering during the pandemic, it will take action.
In the communication, McArthur states extra vigilance is needed from the operators because:
- Consumers have more time – With the lockdown measures imposed, more people will be spending time at home. Consumers are likely to feel more vulnerable with uncertainty about how long the pandemic will last.
- Engaged gamblers will spend more – The Commission figures show that highly engaged customers who play more than one vertical are likely to spend more time and money gambling. As sport is continuing during this latest lockdown, more gambling opportunities exist.
- New Gamblers – With many people unable to work and are part of the furlough scheme, there is a temptation for some to try gambling for the first time.
McArthur said operators must ensure that they follow the strengthened guidance issued during the first lockdown and must pay close attention to the number of games customers play, be aware if they expand into other verticals or spend more money than usual.
The CEO stated operators have a duty to interact directly with customers when triggers are reached and avoid using the current Covid-19 pandemic for marketing purposes or encourage consumers to try different verticals. The Commission also stated that affordability checks should take place when onboarding new customers.
The Commission also outlined the continued role that they would play with permanently strengthening regulatory requirements a focus area for the UKGC. They also reiterated their commitment to monitoring both operator and consumer behaviour and completing compliance assessments, as they did during the first lockdown last year.
The UK entered another lockdown after a new variant of Covid-19 was identified in England, which has resulted in a surge of cases. Yesterday 46,169 new cases of the virus were reported, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the UK to 3.12m.
England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty said of the situation:
We’re now at the worst point of this epidemic for the UK. In the future, we will have the vaccine, but the numbers at the moment are higher than they were in the previous peak — by some distance.– Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer
Whitty stated that the next few weeks were “the most dangerous time” and told the BBC that there were 30,000 people in hospital on Monday compared to 18,000 during the first peak in April. Adding that estimates show 1 in 50 people in the UK were infected with coronavirus, a figure that rises to 1 in 30 in London.
In England, people have been told to stay at home and are only allowed to leave their house for certain reasons. These include shopping for essentials such as food and medicine, working or volunteering where it is “unreasonable” to work from home and education, training, childcare, medical appointments and emergencies.
Breaches can lead to a £200 fine the first offence – doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.
Scotland has its own restrictions in place with areas ranging from zero to four with mainland Scotland moved to “enhanced level four” which makes it illegal to travel from Scotland to other parts of the UK unless the journey is essential.
Northern Ireland started a six-week lockdown on Boxing Day, and Wales is at alert level four, stating that you must stay at home, except for very limited purposes.