BGC Praises COVID Action Plan as Online Safer Gambling Messages Double

  • The number of UK online safer gambling messages has increased more than 100% in six months
  • Other findings include a 25% rise in interventions when customers change gambling habits
  • The plan, launched ahead of the first lockdown, included advertising and staff welfare pledges
  • A government review of the Gambling Act is expected to begin as early as Monday next week
4-reel slot machine reading "STOP"
The Betting and Gaming Council’s COVID action plan has seen safer gambling messages double on UK betting sites since March. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Significant six-month progress

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has announced that safer gambling messages on betting websites have more than doubled since the launch of the group’s COVID action plan six months ago.

The industry group announced its ten-pledge plan at the beginning of the first UK lockdown in March. One of its main aims was to increase the number of safer gambling messages on internet betting websites.

According to the BGC, the number of those messages has increased more than 100% since the first lockdown, while the number of customers receiving safer gambling messages directly has grown 150%. Per month, the number of direct mails with safer gambling messages included increased 89% to 11 million.

The BGC announced the news on its website and Twitter page:

Brigid Simmonds, chairman of the BGC, unveiled the findings at the industry body’s Annual General Meeting on Thursday. Among other statistics, there was a 25% increase in the number of operator interventions when a customer increased their gambling during the pandemic.

Background on the ten pledges

The BGC’s COVID action plan set out the standards expected of its members during the pandemic. The pledges built on safer gambling measures were already in place, but the plan promoted heightened monitoring and swift action in response to the “unprecedented situation of social distancing and home working.”

report any illegal advertising from black market operators

Although an increase in safer gambling messaging topped the list, the pledges established standards in relation to a number of other areas, such as advertising. The BGC urged its members to monitor the volume of marketing to ensure appropriate levels and report any illegal advertising from black market operators.

The action plan also addressed areas outside of customer protection. Pledge nine instructed operators to commit to staff support through welfare checks and well-being help. The plan’s final pledge urged members to get behind the UK government’s “National Effort” during the pandemic.

Last month, the BGC and its members re-affirmed the COVID action plan amid a second period of lockdowns across the UK. BGC CEO Michael Dugher said the commitment demonstrated the industry body’s dedication to “driving up standards” across the UK market. England exited its national lockdown on December 2, returning to a three-tiered system of varying restrictions.

Approaching Gambling Act review

The BGC’s members hope their safer gambling commitment is recognized by those soon to review the Gambling Act 2005. Commenting this week, Dugher said he is “looking forward” to the government’s approaching review, adding that it will allow the industry to further improve standards while combating the black market.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport’s (DDCMS) review, which many expect to result in significant changes for the UK gambling industry, will begin as soon as Monday next week. According to reports from The Guardian, the process will start with an initial call for evidence before focusing on a number of potential changes to UK gambling law.

ban on gambling sponsorship in sports, limits for online stakes and tougher affordability checks

Among the regulatory reforms to be considered by the DDCMS is a ban on gambling sponsorship in sports, limits for online stakes, and tougher affordability checks. The review will also consider a testing regime for new gambling products and the appointment of a force to tackle the black market. Additionally, MPs will assess the suitability of the UK Gambling Commission as a regulatory body.