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Should the UK restrict gambling further?

When it comes to gambling, the UK is one of the rare countries that has regulated this area pretty much entirely. This particularly refers to online betting, where this country is one of the leaders when it comes to law regulations. Simply, every aspect of online gambling is regulated and both citizens and the government benefit from it. One one side, taxes are high and have a very positive effect on the country’s budget. On the other side, citizens have complete legal protection.

While the casino industry has a lot of positive impacts on UK society, it also brings lots of challenges. As a completely legal activity, gambling attracts a wide range of players. With the rising popularity of online betting, slot machines and other online casino games became popular among various social groups, including those that aren’t particularly interested in going to brick and mortar establishments. [source: https://www.casinomartini.com/uk-casino-bonuses/]

All this brings one big issue and as you may presume, that would be problem gamblers. According to some earlier researches, there are more than 500.000 problem gamblers in the UK. In the category of problem gamblers, the researches included everyone who has been negatively impacted by gambling, whether it’s about debt, depression, family breakdown or something else.

With the Coronavirus outbreak, you may presume that things have become even worse. Land-based casinos are closed, so everyone is online. Statistics clearly show a significant increase in the use of online casino websites and games like poker, slots and other things. While there is still no evidence of the increased number of problem gamblers, it’s easy to predict that we will get them in the future for sure. Simply, statistics show notably longer gambling sessions, while a big number of gamblers now have more than one session daily.

So, many wonder if the UK government should restrict gambling further. The Commission came up with the first package of measures in order the prevent future escalation. [source: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/news-action-and-statistics/news/2020/Gambling-Commission-instructs-tighter-measures-to-protect-consumers-during-lockdown.aspx

The Commission’s guidance includes the following:

All operators need to prevent reverse withdrawal options for customers and cease to offer bonuses or promotions to all customers who are displaying indicators of harm. Also, operators should interact with all players who have been playing more than one hour in a single session. Furthermore, they need to conduct affordability assessments for individuals picked up by existing or new thresholds and triggers which indicate consumers experiencing harm – limiting or blocking further play until those checks have been concluded and supporting evidence obtained. Another important thing is the tracking of new customers, as their lack of knowledge could easily lead to unforeseen play patterns and spendings.

The last but not least, casino operators need to ensure the continuous monitoring of their customer base. This would mean tracking things like patterns of play, spendings, or any other behavior that has changed in recent weeks.

Operators should apply these changes as soon as possible, according to the Commission. So, we may expect the first results of these measures in the following weeks. Some would say that these measures seem more than enough. Others suggest tighter restrictions. It’s hard to tell which ones are right at the moment. Time will tell, so we will know if these measures are any good or not in the future.

The COVID-19 pandemics bring a lot of challenges and the biggest issues have been noticed among vulnerable social groups. Potential problem gamblers are definitely one of these, so we have no doubt that the Commission and Government will continue to track behaviors of problem gamblers are react quickly if some new issues occur. Does this mean tighter measures in the future, it’s hard to say at this point.

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