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BGC Covid-19 action plan more than doubles online safer gambling messaging

| By Robert Fletcher
British industry group the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has revealed that since the launch of its novel coronavirus (Covid-19) action plan in March, the amount of safer gambling messages on betting websites more than doubled.

Unveiled at the start of the first UK-wide Covid-19 lockdown, the 10-step plan set out the standards expected of BGC members during the pandemic, including an increase in safer gambling messaging across sites and in direct communications with customers.

BGC members re-affirmed their support for the plan at the start of the second lockdown in England last month, which ended yesterday (2 December) and was replaced by the existing regional, tiered system.

According to the BGC, the pledges led to the number of safer gambling messages increasing by more than 100%, while the amount of individual customers that received safer gambling messages via direct mail increased by 150%.

The total number of direct mails including a safer gambling message jumped from 6m to over 11m a month, representing an increase of 89%. The amount of direct interventions by operators where a player spent more time or money betting than before the pandemic also increased, by 25%.

“The BGC 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,” BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said.

“The introduction of the 10-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.”

BGC members also agreed to voluntarily remove all TV and radio gambling advertising during the first Covid-19 lockdown, and committed to using at least 20% TV and radio ads should be safer gambling messages.

“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% and stable, we can and must do more to tackle it and protect vulnerable and at risk customers,” Dugher said.

 “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.”

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