In response to widespread concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has issued new guidance to its licensees.
Following advice issued by Public Health England, the UKGC has invoked its ‘well-practised and comprehensive Business Continuity Plan’ which is hoped to minimise the effect of the pandemic on the Commission’s regulatory work and wider services.
Outlined in its guidance, the UKGC has encouraged operators to adopt similar contingency plans.
The Commission emphasised: “First and foremost, we expect all our licensees to follow the applicable Public Health guidance. Where facilities for gambling are being offered we expect all our licensees to ensure that they have sufficient management, staffing and oversight in place to maintain compliance with the LCCP that apply to their licences.
“Our expectation remains that licensees ensure the maintenance of sufficient management, staffing and oversight in order to uphold the licensing objectives. Licensees should assess their ability to maintain compliance with the LCCP and consider voluntary partial or full suspension of their offerings should compliance not be achievable and until such time that a fully compliant service can be offered.
“Unfortunately, due to the way that our fee system is structured we don’t have the ability to reduce fees. We are also unable to fast track applications. We will continue to monitor the situation and will communicate any changes to our expectations accordingly.”
The Commission also emphasised that it expects licence holders to ‘continue to act responsibly, especially in regards to individual customer affordability and increased social responsibility interactions’, requesting that operators continue to do the following:
- Assess individual affordability on an ongoing basis – customers may be experiencing disrupted income. (Social Responsibility code 3.4 refers to our guidance – ‘Customer interaction- formal guidance for remote gambling operators’ )
- Increase social responsibility interactions and intervene where customers are showing signs of gambling related harm
- Onboard new customers in a socially responsible way and not exploit the current situation for marketing purposes
- Refresh the information they have on customers regularly
- Review the levels which trigger interaction for AML and SR
- Ensure that your gambling products have been tested by a test house before they are released to the market
- Ensure that markets being offered are consistent with our previous guidance