Since the inception of the lockdown, many industries still continue to plummet as UK residents are being quarantined at home. Even though industries like land-based casinos continue to drop, the online industries have seen a hike in their daily visitors. We can say that the UK Gambling Commission has not been perplexed and has been anticipating it. The concern however, would be an increase in online gambling addiction cases.
More than 6 in 10 Brits are spending more time and money online, with internet data showing a 25% increase in the interest of slot machines, online poker at a 38% increase and virtual sports betting at a whopping 40% spike as compared to figures taken over the same period the previous year. The UK Gambling Commission noted that it found 1.2% of players that had developed addictive gambling habits have now risen to 6%, which is 5 times more than previously recorded figures.
Since the start of the quarantine period, the UK gambling Commission has been putting steps into place to counteract the effect. The commission has ordered gambling operators to tighten up on bonuses and promotional offers, increase visually displayed warnings and to set gambling limiters on their games to limit the things that would normally entice players to the lucrative platform. Stake limiters are especially important for vulnerable citizens who are isolated at home.
Research shows that online gambling and casino ads in the UK have also increased and tripled over a one month period during lockdown. The study also shows that the UK was among the list of the top ten countries for paid gambling ads worldwide. Players that have recovered from gambling addiction are saying that it is so easy to relapse during these trying times, by spinning the virtual roulette wheel or the reels of an online slot machine simply with the click of a mouse or by a touch on the screen of their smartphones could become easy triggers.
The UK Gambling Commission has opened a consultation process that enforces the required measures to be taken by gambling operators to make online gambling safer for players in the UK. The consultation period has been initiated since the 9th of July this year and will continue to run up until September 3rd subject to extension if further consultation is required. The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) is working closely with the UK Gambling Commission and government and has introduced a ban on all gaming product advertising for a six week period with gambling operators requiring that 20% of their ads project safer gambling messages. They have also introduced a whistle to whistle ban on sports ads, long session cooling off periods on online casino games, tools set in place to ensure deposit and spend limits, removing bonus and promotional offers by the vendors, and monitoring play and spend.
This is definitely a steer in the right direction as all possible measures have been set in place to ensure a safer playing field for all. Whether it would become an effective solution or become an extrapolation of past trends will be determined within time only.