The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has cautioned licensed online gambling firms to refrain from taking undue advantage of its customers in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the world.
The gambling watchdog told its iGaming licensees that it remained their responsibility to protect consumers throughout this time. Since the government decided to shut down all casinos and betting shops in the UK, the online gambling industry is expected to see a spike in traffic as players confined to their homes have the option of giving up gambling because they cannot get to a land based casino or take the online casino option!
UKGC Sends Out Strict Instructions
The gambling regulator has instructed licensed operators to ensure that their customers are not straying too far from their normal behaviors. They were also warned to not take advantage of these new customers, especially in line with the disrupted economic fortunes of many in the UK due to work closures and suspensions.
Strong growth has already been reported for some online poker, casino, and bingo operations over the past few days. The UKGC wants iGaming operators to welcome new customers in a socially responsible way.
The UKGC has asked gambling operators to ensure they have enough staff at these times to cater to the needs of new customers and old ones. The notice informs operators who lack the staff or resources for full compliance to suspend their operation voluntarily, rather than breach gambling laws and get pulled up by the commission.
Social responsibility has been a key theme for the gambling commission in recent months due to the rise in problem gambling. This is why many operators are taking the gambling watchdog’s warning seriously. The UKGC is expected to watch online casinos carefully in the succeeding weeks to find out if any are trying to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic in any way.
The commission also confirmed that no reduction on license fees is possible despite the ongoing crisis because of how their fee system is organized.
Land Based Firms Shutdown
The growing concerns of COVID-19 finally got the better of the UK gambling market as the government ordered a closure of all casinos and betting shops for the next two weeks. Some gambling operators had earlier decided to shut down their operations in order to not expose their customers and staff to further risk.
However, there were a number of betting shops and smaller casinos that continued to operate. This directive from the government takes the decision out of their hands. While the shutdown is imposed for two weeks, it is quite possible that the suspension could be extended depending on how things pan out in the next 10 to 14 days. Gambling and betting operators are expected to lose millions of dollars in revenue but will also have to absorb payroll costs as they have to pay their staff who are still on the payroll.
Betting Shops Excluded from Relief Plan
Millions of UK citizens have been told not to come to work and there is a lot of concern regarding their financial well-being. UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s announcement of a relief plan should bring them a sigh of relief and certain businesses will also benefit from this stimulus package. However, there is no such relief for retail betting shops and casinos.
Despite heaping praise on Sunak’s decision to exclude the retail and hospitality industry from business rates throughout the year, Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) chief executive Michael Dugher is now attacking Sunak for not including them in the relief plans. According to Dugher, the retail and hospitality industry employs roughly 70,000 in the UK and pays out billions in taxes to the state; excluding them for the business rate relief plan unfairly jeopardizes their future.
Dugher promised that the BGC will continue to appeal the government’s decision, hoping that it would reconsider what Dugher expects to be a catastrophic blow to the industry he represents. Without any government support or assistance, according to Dugher, it would not be a surprise if many gambling businesses in the UK collapse outright!

TightPoker Staff

TightPoker Staff

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