UKGC Warns Against Complacency as Coronavirus Causes Online Activity to Spike

Now is the time for online gaming operators to stay focused and stick to the rules rather than getting greedy, says Neil McArthur, chairman of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC.

UKGC Neil McArthur

UKGC chair Neil McArthur is warning online operators not to break the rules in efforts to take advantage of a coronavirus-induced upswing. (Image: UKGC/Twitter)

As the new coronavirus forces people out of brick-and-mortar venues, business is on the up for Britain’s online operators.

However, with great opportunity come great responsibility and McArthur warns that regulatory infractions won’t be tolerated.

Coronavirus Lockdown Leads to More Activity Online

In a week that’s seen Prime Minister Boris Johnson lock down the UK, the internet has become the go-to medium for entertainment.

Grosvenor Poker recently reported a surge of activity, and the statistics show similar upswings across the board. According to data supplied by PokerScout, PokerStars’ daily cash game peak in December 2019 was 8,710. On March 26, the total number of cash game players was 9,061.

Business is booming and the time is ripe for online gaming operators to strike. However, in a time of plenty, McArthur is calling for vigilance. With more children forced to stay home, the UKGC leader is concerned about underage gambling.

“Protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed by gambling has always been a major priority. and we are very mindful – as you should be – of the fact that the risks of harm arising from online gambling have increased as a result of recent events,” reads his statement released on Thursday.

Prior to coronavirus outbreak, underage gambling was a major focus for both the UKGC and the British government. As a commitment to tackling the issue, a new initiative was announced in mid-March.

Through the Department of Education, the Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) program will introduce new classes designed to teach children about the negative effects of gambling. The initiative plays into broader efforts designed to protect children across the UK.

However, with normal service currently on hold, officials believe a more direct form of action is required.

UKGC Will Help, Infractions Won’t be Tolerated

As Brits are forced into isolation, McArthur has reminded licensees of the need to know their customers. The overarching aim being to protect children and the vulnerable.

“We expect you to be very mindful that customers may be vulnerable and experiencing financial uncertainty, whilst others may be experiencing other effects of being isolated including, for example, feelings of anxiety, loneliness or boredom,” the update continues.

McArthur also used the update to reassure operators that the UKGC is working to protect their interests. Although online platforms are enjoying an upswing, live venues have been forced to shut.

With no end to the social distancing restrictions in sight, the losses could, potentially, destroy businesses. As the UK’s gaming regulator, the UKGC is liaising with industry leaders and is relaying their concerns to the government.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has authorized a £330 billion/$385 billion emergency budget for British businesses, but even with that assistance from the government, the live gaming sector will suffer due to the coronavirus lockdown.

The UKGC is working to mitigate those losses, but as McArthur said, efforts to keep the industry alive shouldn’t come at the expense of consumer safety.

Written by
Daniel Smyth
Dan Smyth is a poker media journeyman who politely reminds CardsChat readers that poker is played all around the world, not just America.


Andrew Popov wrote...

I think we should be more afraid that after a surge in activity due to the pandemic, we will face a sharp decline due to the financial crisis that it will provoke. Now people spend money on entertainment, being isolated. But then they will have to calculate the losses from the loss of income.

Tracey goodman wrote...

I won some money with swift online casino owned by ojo for all the years I’ve never had to show id upon a withdrawal this always be done before a deposit then if more I’d needed I wouldn’t play as my passport expired. Played and won with swift casino upon withdrawal they wanted Hugh amount of id including how I find the bets and a copy of this bank statement card bills medical card my passport expired but still shown it photo of me holding passport and still won’t let me withdraw says I’ve got to go and get passport by doing this I’ve got to go to a photo booth take my mask off to get photo risk getting covid told them I have COPD and previous septis cannot go out tried other ways like I asked them id card etc but for last six weeks been treated like mud they don’t reply to emails make me wait sometimes half an hour before someone talks online chat then I get disconnected all the time the one manager had me believing I was going to get paid she said under the circumstances and sent in loads of id she would herself sort it out and email me this was a week ago still nothing all they send emails back saying passport the way ime being treated us disgusting gambling doesn’t affect my disabilty but when Ime in a wheel chair 50 years old being told to get this and that paperwork struggling and they know this as I’ve sent prove if dob with hospital letter s as it has dob name and address on with all my disabiltys and they wanted my proof of disabilty pensions as well I feel stressed ripped off they shouldn’t be allowed and to make matters worse they advertise on TV yet I’ve found out there blacklisted on some sites and reviews are shocking mostly by not paying out winnings and ignoring people so why does UK advised on TV for them yet not even looking into the bad reviews and sites like the pogg etc blacklisted I went on ojo website as seen on TV and there sister site came up as only just opened five star reviews so went on swift casino owned by them and thus has happened. Don’t know where the five stars reviews have come from as I looked more into the sites to come across as some site black listen them

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