UK regulator warns operators to protect customers in lockdown

Neil McArthur has warned operators the regulator will be watching closely.
Neil McArthur has warned operators the regulator will be watching closely.

The chief executive of the Gambling Commission has written to operators to warn that further action may be taken if responsibilities are shirked.

UK.- Neil McArthur, chief executive of the Gambling Commission, has reminded licensed operators of their duty to protect customers as much of the UK remains under Covid-19 lockdowns.

McArthur has written to operators to warn that the regulator will take action if they fail to protect vulnerable players during the period. It is concerned that at-risk consumers may feel isolated and vulnerable during lockdown, leading to changes in their gambling habits.

McArthur’s message read: “No one should be in any doubt about how closely we are monitoring issues or our willingness to take further action if we deem that necessary.”

He added: “We know that some consumers, such as highly engaged gamblers who play a range of products, are likely to spend more time and money gambling and the fact that sport will continue during this lockdown will mean there are more opportunities for betting customers to gamble.”

McArthur warned operators to expect close monitoring of operator conduct regarding compliance procedures in what is a critical year for the gambling sector, with the UK government reviewing gambling legislation.

The regulator expects operators to carry out stricter player affordability checks and customer care interventions during the period.

It warned that it would not accept any exploitation of regional lockdowns to promote gambling products and would continue to revise regulatory (RTS) and license (LCCP) requirements on customer protection.

It has called on employees that have concerns about the behaviour of the companies they work for to blow the whistle by contacting the commission’s Intelligence Hotline in confidence.

McArthur said: “The gambling industry and daily life as a whole continues to be impacted by the pandemic and whilst there is some light and hope ahead with the vaccine, I want to ensure operators are clear of our expectations.

“Since March we have all adapted to new ways of working and this new phase will be a challenge for us all. However, operators must now more than ever continue to be vigilant to protect their customers.”

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