The European Gaming and Betting Association has disputed claims of an “explosion of online gambling” as “unfounded” during the current lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic and claimed that activity is, in fact, in decline.

However, the EGBA stressed the importance of online gambling companies remaining ‘vigilant’ in protecting its customers during this current lockdown.

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

“Thankfully there are many tools available to help gamblers manage their online gambling in a responsible way. But 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. 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.”

One such tool is self-exclusion which allows customers to ban themselves, either temporarily or permanently, from accessing specific gambling websites. Alongside this are national self-exclusion registers which allow customers to ban themselves from accessing all the gambling websites licensed in their country. 

The EGBA pointed to the recent H2 Gambling Capital’s forecasts which predicted a 12.5 per cent drop in 2020 global gambling revenues, compared to 2019. 

The forecast goes on to state that even though the online gambling’s share of the declining gambling market was expected to increase from 13 per cent to 16 per cent, the reality shows the sector will drop because of the overall market decline.

Furthermore, in Belgium the government confirmed last week that traffic to licensed gambling websites had decreased by 38 per cent from pre-COVID 19 levels which the government has attributed to the decline in sports betting.

The EGBA concluded: “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.”