The new guidance is to ensure that customers of online casinos and gaming operators are protected following the emergence of new gambling harm evidence during the current Coronavirus lockdown measures.
The guidance sets out a number of recommendations for operators to adhere to, including: affordability checks, bonus offers and prevention of reverse withdrawals.
UKGC has been working behind the scenes to collate data from various sources, which has showed that although the number of gambling participants has decreased, there has been a shift in gambling product usage within the market as a direct result of the Coronavirus crisis, including online slots, virtual sports, casino games and poker.
In addition, the data collected by the UKGC showed that session time had decreased but hourly session number had increased.
In light of the new evidence, the UKGC has set out its six points that gambling operators should:
Prevent reverse withdrawal options for customers until further notice.
Cease to offer bonuses or promotions to all customers who are displaying indicators of harm.
Interact with customers who have been playing for an hour in a single session of play.
Review thresholds and triggers for new customers to reflect the operator’s lack of knowledge of that individual’s play and spend patterns.
Conduct affordability assessments for individuals picked up by existing or new thresholds and triggers which indicate consumers experiencing harm – limiting or blocking further play until those checks have been concluded and supporting evidence obtained.
Implement processes that ensure the continual monitoring of their customer base – identifying patterns of play, spend or behaviours have changed in recent weeks.
Neil McArthur, chief executive officer of the UKGC commented on the new guidance:
“Operators must use the data they hold to protect their customers and now, more than ever, it’s vital that online operators really know their customers by monitoring how long they are playing for and understanding how financial uncertainty is impacting them and what they can afford to gamble with.?
To ensure operators do that, we are strengthening our guidance and expect operators to take account of that to prevent bonus offers or inducements being offered to customers who are showing any sign of harm.
We will continue to monitor and publish the data that we are collecting and we will take further measures if required.?We are monitoring online operators closely and if we see irresponsible behaviour we will step in immediately, suspending licences if we need to.”