The industry’s united trade body notes that the number of safer gambling messages posted on gambling platforms has more than doubled in just six months since the introduction of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC)’ COVID action plan.’
At the beginning of the first COVID-19 lockdown in March, the 10-pledge strategy was initially announced and laid out the new requirements and conduct duties required of BGC members during the pandemic.
During the first wave of the pandemic, BGC representatives decided to voluntarily withdraw all TV and radio gaming ads and eventually agreed that at least 20 percent of all TV and radio advertising could go ahead with safer gambling messages.
Commenting on the results, BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher stated: “The Betting and Gaming Council was set up last year as a standards body committed to driving big changes across much of the regulated industry. These latest findings show that the BGC has led the way and is achieving real results on safer gambling.
“The introduction of the ten-pledge plan at the start of lockdown was further evidence of success – and our members re-affirmed their support for the pledges when the second lockdown began.”
After questions were raised about whether the closing of betting shops and casinos could lead to an increase in online gambling problems, the initiative was adopted.
BGC members reaffirmed their pledge to following the COVID action plan at the beginning of the second UK lockout in November.
A willingness to raise the number of safer gambling messages, the successful promotion of deposit limits and welfare checks for workers were among the commitments.
Data released by BGC chair Brigid Simmonds at the AGM of the standards body has shown that since the pledges were adopted, the number of such messages has risen by more than 100 percent.
Meanwhile the number of individual customers receiving safer direct mail gambling messages has increased by 150 percent, and the overall number of direct mails containing a safer gambling message has soared from 6 million to more than 11 million a month, a rise of 89 percent.
Moreover, 25 percent has also raised the amount of direct interventions by operators where a player has invested more time or money betting than they did before the pandemic.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) welcomed the ‘proactive safeguards’ of the industry on online advertising, which had seen under-18 exposure to gambling advertisements limited to single instances, in further winter innovations.
Dugher continued: “It shouldn’t be forgotten that around 30 million people in Britain place a bet at least once a year, whether that is on the National Lottery, in betting shops, casinos or at the bingo, and the overwhelming majority do so without any problems.
“But although the Gambling Commission has found no evidence of an increase in problem gambling during lockdown, and the Government says rates of problem gambling are around 0.7 per cent and stable, we can and must do more to tackle it and protect vulnerable and at risk customers.
“That is why we are looking forward to the Government beginning its Gambling Review so we can further improve standards, whilst ensuring that customers are not driven into the arms of the offshore illegal black market where there are no standards or safeguards.”