While online gaming has not seen the boost speculated by anti-gambling campaigners, the Betting and Gaming Council’s CEO Michael Dugher has committed to raising standards during the UK’s COVID lockdown.
Gaming will support the government in a time of national crisis despite a drop in business, says Michael Dugher, Chief Executive of the Betting and Gaming Council.
Responding to calls from the Gambling Commission, the BGC published its ‘compulsory action plan‘ outlining 10 measures strengthening industry social responsibility and consumer standards, which all of the trade body’s members will adhere to during the COVID-19 pandemic. Key member pledges include increasing safer gambling messages across websites, the active promotion of deposit limits and safer gambling tools, reporting rogue advertising and expanding welfare checks on customers. However, Dugher doesn’t accept the idea that players are spending more during self-isolation.
“First of all, it’s important to say that we know that levels of gambling have plummeted in recent days,” he said. “This is not just because of the closures of betting shops and casinos, but because of the lack of sporting fixtures.”
He added that sports betting has always made up a huge part of online gambling, with the idea that the Covid crisis will lead to a boon being “plain wrong”.
“I understand why the prohibitionists and anti-gambling campaigners want to give that impression, but the reality is that operators have been posting warnings to the market as revenues slide dramatically,” continued Dugher. “Talking to many companies, some expect to see an increase in online activity – unsurprisingly given it’s the only place now where you can place a bet – but they say they are not seeing dramatic increases in online and certainly nothing that could remotely make up the overall decline in gambling.”
Dugher, however, also understands the “worries that people have”, stating that he is determined to see “the industry’s commitment to safer gambling is being stepped up at this time”.
“Britain is at its best when we come together,” he concluded. “We will come through this crisis, but we all have a role to play. I am determined that our industry plays its full part in the Government’s ‘National Effort’ – whether that’s in helping with volunteers or resources or facilities. But it also means us helping to protect people most at risk in these extraordinarily difficult and challenging times. I am determined that we do just that.”