GC issues consumer advice for safe online gambling

27 March 2020

The GB Gambling Commission has published guidance to help consumers stay safe when gambling online during the ongoing novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The regulator said that in light of the outbreak and government requirements for people to stay in their home, it is likely that more people will be engaging with online gambling websites.

The Commission yesterday (26 March) issued new advice to all of its licensed gambling companies to outline expectations regarding keeping consumers safe and has now also set out the protections in place to safeguard players.

The regulator reminded consumers that all licensed sites have a built-in tool that allows them to set deposit limits, which it said will help both the player and the operator keep spend at a manageable level.

Meanwhile, the Commission has partnered with Twitter to create guidance aimed at supporting users who want to limit the amount of gambling-related content they see on the social media platform. Users can adjust their Twitter safety tools to help mitigate the risk of exposure to such messages.

The regulator also pointed out that consumers who think they may be gambling too much can self-exclude from websites through the Gampstop scheme. All licensed operators in the UK are required to participate in the scheme from 31 March.

Operators licensed by the Commission are required to make a summary of their terms and conditions available to users, with customers required to read these to fully understand the risks associated with gambling. Similarly, sites must give users access to historic account activity so that they can monitor their gambling.

In terms of unlicensed operators, the regulator warned that there is an increased risk of illegal overseas websites trying to seek British customers in the current circumstances. The Commission said that it would be tracking and taking action against such sites where we identify them, while consumers can check its licence register to see if a site is approved.

It also recommended players seeking further support about their gambling habits, call the National Gambling Helpline for provides confidential information and advice. In addition, Public Health England has issued guidance and tips on how individuals can maintain mental wellbeing if they need to self-isolate at home.

“We will continue to monitor the impacts of Covid-19 on gambling,” the Commission said. “We will be looking carefully at gambling operators’ activities and any new risks to consumers and will continue to take action where needed to protect people from harm.”

The regulator's guidance has been published alongside a new ten-point plan from the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) to ensure its members step up player protection efforts during the pandemic. Members will be required to step monitoring of customer behaviour, as well ad delivering tailored responses and new actions to reflect the “unprecedented situation” of social distancing and home working.