UK Gambling Trade Body adopts new standards during Coronavirus pandemic

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), the new standards body for UK betting and gaming which covers betting shops, online betting and gaming businesses and casinos, has announced a new 10 pledge action plan agreed with its B2C operator members, which sets out the standards to be applied during the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

The 10 pledges builds on existing best practice that BGC members follow as part of safer gambling operations, however the BGC will now require heightened monitoring, tailored responses and new action to address the unprecedented situation of social distancing and home working and to help ensure that the highest safeguards are in place and action is taken to protect anyone betting online who may be more vulnerable as a result of the crisis.

The BGC supported the Gambling Commission, who last week demanded increased consumer protection and responsible marketing in the context of the pandemic, and the pledges cover the following areas:

  1. Increase safer gambling messages across all sites and direct to all customers
  2. Step up interventions if customers increase time and spend beyond normal pre-crisis patterns
  3. Actively promote deposit limits
  4. Action to ensure appropriate and responsible advertising including monitoring volume
  5. Report all illegal, rogue advertising from black market online operators
  6. One-strike-and-you’re-out policy where affiliates breach pledges
  7. Signpost help to GAMCARE and the National Gambling Helpline and GamStop for self-exclusion
  8. Commitment to ensuring funding for Research Education and Treatment (RET)
  9. Welfare checks and well-being help for staff
  10. Supporting the Government’s ‘National Effort’ with volunteers and facilities

At a time when the industry faces unprecedented scrutiny from the media and politicians and the potential for a brand new Gambling Act in the not too distant future, this initiative demonstrates strong leadership from the BGC and its members. Despite the obvious economic challenges facing all operators, now is not the time to be stress-testing the outer reaches of what may or may not pass muster from a regulatory compliance perspective. The industry needs to be adapt to the challenges brought by the pandemic but in a responsible way. Operators who are not BGC members should pay heed to these standards – those who do not do so risk looking like outliers and that is an uncomfortable place to be in the current climate.