Members of Parliament in the UK have asked online gambling providers to impose a temporary betting cap of GBP 50 per day during the Coronavirus crisis.
The MPs make up a cross-party group that examines gambling-related harm in the industry. In a letter sent to UK stakeholders, they asked gaming operators to put clients’ wellbeing before profits.
“We are deeply concerned that as we go deeper into this crisis, more and more people will turn to online gambling as a distraction,” wrote the MPs. Signatories include Labour’s Carolyn Harris, SNP’s Ronnie Cowan, and Iain Duncan Smith from the ruling Conservative Party.
“If the industry were to self-impose a daily limit of £50…it would be a clear demonstration that the industry is willing to act responsibly and do what they can to protect society and peoples’ finances at this dreadful time,” they wrote.
MPs also asked for companies to block clients from opening multiple accounts. They also called for quick intervention with those that exhibit signs of addiction or ‘disordered gambling’.
There are concerns from experts that those suffering from gambling disorders, many of which will be at home during the pandemic, are prone to betting on events that they are unable to predict the outcome of. Boredom, stress, and frustration may also lead to an increase in bets.
Bricks-and-mortar betting shops close
Last week, the UK announced that all bricks-and-mortar betting shops must close indefinitely. To halt the spread of Coronavirus, the Government took a number of such social-distancing measures last week.
The government has pledged to pay 80% of wages, up to £2,500 per month. This will be payable for employees that would have otherwise lost their jobs. Businesses will also not have to pay VAT until at least June.
With thousands of casinos and betting shops closing across the UK, millions of clients will instead turn to online platforms. In other countries, spikes in online traffic to gambling sites have already increased as more and more people in lockdown, try to find ways to pass the time.
Sports events canceled
A number of big sporting events have also been canceled, in addition to these closures. These include the Premier League, Euro 2020, British rugby matches, boxing, golf as well as Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Unfortunately, a number of online betting providers had been encouraging punters to bet on obscure sporting events. Following the cancellation of the larger events, they were advertising for little-known leagues such as the Belarus Premier League. Customers have little chance of being able to make educated bets on these events and MPs said it was unfair. Providers were pushing Japanese baseball games and table tennis tournaments through advertising.
Over the next few months, a surge in the number of online gamblers is expected. This means that now is the time to open your online gambling business. Online gambling providers should remain in line with all recommendations and responsible best practices in the jurisdictions they work in. The Coronavirus pandemic provides business opportunities for those operating in the sphere, but these should not be taken at the risk of violating ethics.