Neil McArthur, Chief Executive of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), has reminded licensed operators of their responsibilities and duties in protecting customers as the UK’s regional governments enforce tougher lockdown measures during the winter period.
Writing to betting leadership, McArthur warned operators that “no one should be in any doubt about how closely we are monitoring issues or our willingness to take further action if we deem that necessary”.
The regulator reiterated its prior concerns that at-risk consumers may feel isolated and vulnerable during lockdown, leading to drastic changes in their gambling habits.
“We know that some consumers, such as highly engaged gamblers who play a range of products, are likely to spend more time and money gambling and the fact that sport will continue during this lockdown will mean there are more opportunities for betting customers to gamble,” McArthur warned.
Licensed operators have been ordered to maintain the protocols established by the UKGC’s ‘COVID-19 strengthened guidance’ undertaking strict player affordability checks and heightened customer care interactions.
The Commission warned that it would not tolerate any operators exploiting lockdown conditions to promote their products or services.
As the UK public faces a further year under lockdown constraints, the UKGC said it will continue to revise its regulatory (RTS) and license (LCCP) requirements on customer and consumer protections.
McArthur cautioned operators to expect the highest monitoring of operator behaviour and conduct on compliance procedures during a critical year for the gambling sector.
Employees who have concerns with regards to the behaviour of their companies have been told to contact the UKGC’s ‘Confidential Intelligence Hotline’.
“The gambling industry and daily life as a whole continues to be impacted by the pandemic and whilst there is some light and hope ahead with the vaccine, I want to ensure operators are clear of our expectations,” McArthur noted.
Signing off his statement, he said: “Since March we have all adapted to new ways of working and this new phase will be a challenge for us all. However, operators must now more than ever, continue to be vigilant to protect their customers.”