UK residents are strongly urged to sign up for the self-exclusion from gambling scheme, Gamstop, to protect themselves from excessive losses through online gambling while being locked down in their homes due to the coronavirus /Covid-19/ spread mitigation measures.
MPs Raised Concerns
The problem was initially raised by some Members of Parliament who expressed their concerns some people might seek distraction in gambling during the virus lockdown and might need extra measures of protection from such harm. The Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group even went further by suggesting all gaming operators implement a £50 limit for daily gambling for all players during the period.
Regulator Responded By Issuing Guidance
The UK Gambling Commission released guidance for operators, reminding them to continue to behave responsibly, especially in terms of their continuous assessment of individual client affordability as some clients may have serious income disruptions. In addition, gambling companies were asked push up their efforts for social responsibility interaction with their clients to be able to identify and intervene to prevent gambling-related harm. Lastly, gaming operators were advised not to take advantage from the ongoing health crisis for marketing purposes and keep their onboarding process on a responsible basis.
Industry Body Urged Members’ Responsibility
In support to the regulatory guidance by the UK GC, the gaming industry body, the Betting and Gaming Council /BGC/, issued an action plan for its members. Among the 10 points outlined, the BGC asked all operators to increase safer gambling messages, step up interventions and promotion of deposit limits, as well as take appropriate action to ensure responsible advertising, including reporting advertising from illegal operators.
Gamstop Provides Radical Solution
Gamstop, a free service that allows people to exclude themselves from gambling websites that launched back in April 2018 and since then had acquired more than 130,000 registered users, recommended to people to take decisive action and self-restrict their access to any type of online gambling, at least for the duration of the lockdown.
“We are concerned that, at a time when so many people are being forced to stay at home during the coronavirus, vulnerable consumers who may have an issue with their gambling might be tempted to spend money they do not have on online gambling.” – Fiona Palmer, CEO, Gamstop
The self-exclusion scheme allows registered users three options in terms of duration of the self-exclusion, six months, one year or five years, but according to its statistics, 73% opt to exclude themselves for the maximum duration period.
Gamstop’s advice to people to self-restrict their access to online gambling was prompted from the spike in the number of their users asking to remove the self-imposed restrictions so they can gamble again, something the scheme is designed to prevent from happening, for their own protection.