EGBA disputes claims of European online casino boom

16 April 2020

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has disputed claims that national lockdowns as a result of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic will lead to an increase in online gambling, claiming instead that activity will in fact decline.

However, it warned that with additional scrutiny on operators, it was particularly important to take a lead in protecting players, rather than leaving it to individuals to police their own behaviour.

The Association disputed assertions that the lockdown would lead to increased online gambling, which it said were “unfounded”. Noting that sports betting makes up nearly half of Europe’s online betting activity, EGBA said the suspension of sporting events have already led to a decline in gambling activity which far outstrips any increase in casino play.

EGBA pointed to H2 Gambling Capital’s latest figures, which project a decline in gambling revenue for 2020 to show that the grounds for many advertising restrictions introduced in the wake of the crisis are not based on evidence.

“This is contrary to what many predicted and disproves the concerns about dramatic increases in online gambling, which have underpinned the recent introduction of severe advertising restrictions in some European countries,” EGBA said.

The Association also reminded operators that, while there are many tools customers can use to ensure they gamble responsibly, it is up to the companies to make sure these are properly signposted and effective.

“The onus shouldn’t only be on the customers, online gambling companies should also act responsibly and be mindful of their social responsibilities during these difficult times,” EGBA said. “Common sense goes a long way.

“That’s why online gambling companies should ensure that responsible gambling tools are widely available to their customers and these tools are visible, accessible and easy-to-use.”

EGBA added that self-exclusion - both from individual operators and on a national basis - is a “vital safety net” for customers who experience problem gambling. However, noting that national self-exclusion registers don’t apply to unlicensed operators, it called on regulators to clamp down on these websites further.

The association explained it was important that operators advertise responsibly, pointing to the responsible advertising guidance that it issued in March.

“Responsible and safer gambling is an essential objective every day of the year, we all want a sustainable industry with customers that can enjoy their play in a safe environment,” EGBA said. “But it is now even more important as millions of Europeans are isolated at home due to the coronavirus lockdown.”

The guidance warned that operators must not refer to coronavirus, World Health Organisation (WHO) statements referencing the pandemic, or any other related developments.

Operators were also warned to ensure their adverts do not portray gambling as a solution to social, personal or financial problems, nor invite customers to gamble online as a solution to boredom.