UKGC urges extra operator vigilance during latest COVID lockdown

Neil McArthur, chief executive of the UK Gambling Commission, has reminded operators of the need to ensure “that you are protecting your customers during this difficult time”.

He has called on operators to demonstrate extra vigilance during the new national lockdown, particularly with the continuation of elite level sport meaning “there are more opportunities for betting customers to gamble”.

“Most people will be spending more time at home and many people are likely to be feeling more isolated and vulnerable as a result of the length of the pandemic period, the new restrictions and further uncertainty about their personal or financial circumstances,” McArthur says in his statement.

Acknowledging that “we know that the restrictions imposed in response to COVID-19 have had an impact on customer behaviour,” McArthur says no should be in any doubt “about how closely we are monitoring issues or our willingness to take further action if we deem that necessary”.

A number of expectations have been laid out by the regulator, which includes a reminder to continue following strengthened guidance issued during the first lockdown, and taking close interest in data that shows consumers expanding their portfolio of games and spending more time or money than before.  

The need to interact directly where triggers are reached, as well as more generic email engagement, is also detailed, as well as the necessity to “avoid any temptation to exploit the current situation for marketing purposes and be very cautious when seeking to cross-sell products”.

The UKGC itself says that it will continue to take steps to permanently strengthen regulatory requirements, encompassing changes to RTS and LCCP to protect consumers, in addition to monitoring the behaviour of operators and consumers closely and conducting compliance assessments during this latest lockdown as was undertaken previously.

“The gambling industry and daily life as a whole continues to be impacted by the pandemic and whilst there is some light and hope ahead with the vaccine, I want to ensure operators are clear of our expectations,” McArthur adds to conclude the statement. 

“Since March we have all adapted to new ways of working and this new phase will be a challenge for us all. However, operators must now more than ever, continue to be vigilant to protect their customers.”