UK Group Promises To Avoid Virus Exploitation

  • Gambling companies urged to avoid marketing to the “bored”
  • Operators asked to review content, volume, targeting
  • GambleAware survey highlights youth awareness of gambling ads

The UK Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has unveiled a ten-point programme of safer gambling promises targeting behaviour during the coronavirus impact, as pressure grows for industry action.

The BGC wants members to review their marketing volume, content and targeting to ensure that they and their affiliates do not use messages portraying gambling “as a suitable or desirable response to those experiencing boredom or frustration during self-isolation”.

Neither operators nor affiliates should use marketing associated with coronavirus such as “bored”, “stay at home” or “isolation”, the group said.

The online and land-based gambling trade group promises its members will promote deposit limits, boost safer gambling messages and enhance monitoring and data collection, keeping in mind that players may be stressed from isolation or social distancing.

“Any change in customer play patterns, including any increase in time and spend, beyond normal patterns before the crisis, indicates potential markers of harm and operators must step up interventions,” the BGC wrote.

The group is also asking members to maintain a duty of care for employees, who may be suffering their own levels of stress.

The programme comes as the UK Gambling Commission promised last week to punish irresponsible behaviour linked to virus promotions and parliamentarians called for a £50 daily stake limit.

The BGC also asked its members to crack down on affiliates who violate guidelines and to report black market operators that advertise illegally.

“We all know that levels of gambling have plummeted not just because of betting shop or casino closures, but because of the absence of sport, which is also fundamental to online betting,” said BGC chief executive Michael Dugher.

“Although gambling levels have dropped during the COVID crisis, our commitment to safer gambling is being stepped up.”

Members should highlight GamCare advice, the National Gambling Helpline and GAMSTOP for self-exclusion, the group said.

GVC, parent of Ladbrokes, Coral and bwin, said it will run multi-channel marketing programmes to promote responsible gambling, as well as add new markers of harm to help flag risky behaviour in time for early intervention.

In the coming weeks it will add new responsible gambling tools, including curfew setting, stake limit setting on slot games and reverse withdrawal settings, GVC said.

Separately, GambleAware released a study which found that nearly all young people over the age of 10 were exposed to gambling marketing in the past month.

The industry-funded charity said its survey found that 96 percent of those between ages 11 and 24 had seen gambling messages in the past month, most on television, followed by bookmaker window displays.

About eight out of ten youths were able to identify gambling logos when shown in part, GambleAware said.

The group called for better age gating of marketing, clearer safer gambling messages and campaigns and a reduction in appeal of advertising to children.

The survey was conducted last year by Ipsos MORI and the Institute for Social Marketing at the University of Stirling.

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