The survey conducted by YouGov shows that the overall gambling participation has decreased in the last couple of months since many land-based casinos closed their doors and many sports events were cancelled. The rate of first-time gamblers has also dropped.
What’s more, the data didn’t show evidence pointing to increased problem gambling. However, it did suggest that there’s a shift towards online gambling products. Many people have been playing online poker, slots, and other casino games on the web during the lockdown.
As reported by the UKGC, two-thirds of surveyed gamblers stated that they increased the time or money spent on playing online gambling games. The survey also included players who use National Lottery products.
Moreover, the overall length of gaming sessions has decreased during the lockdown, but the number of sessions that last more than an hour has increased, according to the survey.
The UKGC Provides Additional Guidance for Online Operators
The UK Gambling Commission added new items to the guidance list after reviewing the survey results. Therefore, online operators now need to take additional measures to prevent players from experiencing harm during the lockdown.
First of all, operators have to prevent the option for reverse withdrawal. It will remain like this until further notice. Moreover, no bonuses or promotions should be available to customers who show any signs of possible gambling harm.
Operators have to interact with those customers who spent more than an hour on a single session while playing online gambling games.
All new customers who join an online gambling site will have their thresholds and triggers reviewed so that the operator can understand their patterns related to spending and playing. This will further help the operator to prevent harm before it happens.
If a new customer isn’t behaving according to predetermined thresholds and triggers, the operator needs to conduct an affordability assessment. Until all supporting evidence is obtained, the customer will have a limited offer of games or may be completely blocked from the platform.
To do all that, gambling operators have to implement processes that will allow them to monitor their customer base. That way, they’ll be able to notice whether there are some changes in behavioural patterns.
All online operators are required to implement these changes as soon as possible. The Commission will announce shortly whether the measures will be permanent or not.
According to the CEO of the Gambling Commission, Neil McArthur, online operators are required now more than ever to monitor their customers and ‘understand how financial uncertainty affects them’. Moreover, he added that operators need to know what their customers can ‘afford to gamble with’.
McArthur also said that the UKGC was ‘strengthening’ their guidance and that they expected the operators to stop offering promotions and bonuses to all customers who displayed any sign of harm.
Finally, he concluded that they would continue to monitor the data and publish everything they had collected so that they could ‘take further measures if required’. If any operators do not adhere to the guidelines, the Gambling Commission would not hesitate to ‘step in immediately’, and even suspend their licenses if the situation requires so.