Online operators should proactively respond to an unprecedented situation for the modern-day gambling industry.
On March 22nd the Gambling Related Harm All Parliamentary Group (APPG) wrote a letter to the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) calling on operators to take measures to protect customers.
“As our daily life becomes increasingly restricted and bars, pubs and entertainment venues close, many millions of people will now be at home with time on their hands,” the group wrote. “Many will turn to the mini casino on their mobile phone for entertainment. Some of these will never have considered online gambling before; others will have spent years trying to avoid it.”
“If the industry were to self-impose a daily limit of £50 for every individual who becomes active on gambling sites, it would be clear demonstration that the industry is willing to act responsibly and do what they can to protect society and peoples’ finances, at this dreadful time,” it said.
The APPG recognized ‘that not all online gamblers will have a problem. We also understand that many gamblers can afford to gamble in excess of £50.’
Recognizing that the vast majority of online gamblers don’t have a problem is a positive recognition on the part of the APPG and is something that has been lacking in many of their views around online gambling.
Nevertheless, there is some merit to what the APPG are saying and operators should give serious consideration to taking a more proactive stance around player protection during this unprecedented time. Considerations for operators to take on board:
Email communication to all players reminding them to gamble in a responsibly and making them aware of all the safer gambling tools available – deposit limits, time out – during this period.
Increase responsible gaming messages displayed on site, through various acquisition channels and within CRM. There is a balance needed to ensure players don’t become bombarded about an issue that they already have under control.
Imposing deposit limits on all new players who sign up during the period of Coronavirus lock down. This may seem drastic, but operators know the average deposit value of their player-base so the majority of players won’t be impacted. For those new customers who wish to gamble more then they will need to complete the relevant affordability checks from the operators.
Impose limits on existing players based on their behaviour prior to lockdown. Rather than a blanket approach of imposing a daily limit of £50, operators should take the view that average spend for the 6 weeks prior to the cancellation of sport is a fair indicator of what spent should look like during the current period of lockdown.
Playing online casino and online poker is a pastime that is enjoyed by millions and it will be the case that some sports bettors will transition to these products during the lockdown, and enjoy in a responsible way.
It should be recognized that Virtual Sports, eSports, Belarusian Football, Table Tennis from China are not a sustainable replacement for the lack of real sport. They are a bit of fun for small stakes and operators should ensure that they keep a close watch on players who overspend on these products.
There is a responsibility on all operators in the UK marketplace to create a safe environment for their customers, doing so will be greatly recognized by players and rewarded with their loyalty as soon as the full sporting calendar resumes