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EGBA commits to safer gambling as stricter Covid-19 measures return

| By Robert Fletcher
The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has reiterated its commitment to consumer protection, to head off concerns that the return of strict novel coronavirus (Covid-19) measures could lead to a spike in problem gambling.

According to the EGBA, the reintroduction of more severe restrictions, such as lockdowns where people are required to spend time at home and in isolation, could increase the risks of addictive behaviours.

Its commitment has been supported by local operator associations from 14 European markets.

As such, the EGBA called on gambling operators to be vigilant, promote safer gambling and protect their customers, with a particular focus on those who are vulnerable.

To help operators ensure they are operating a safe gambling environment, the EGBA and its partner associations have published a checklist to help businesses in the online gambling market.

Operators should ensure their adverts do not refer to Covid-19 in any way, nor portray gambling as a solution to boredom or social, personal or financial problems.

Adverts and websites should feature clear information about minimum age restrictions, national problem gambling helplines and self-exclusion registers where possible.

Operators should also closely monitor for problematic gambling behaviour and step up direct safer gambling interventions when appropriate.

The EGBA said all online gambling sites should also have in place robust identity verification measures, in order to confirm the identity of new customers and prevent minors from gambling.

In addition, websites should include safer gambling tools such as deposit limits, time-outs and self-exclusion tools to allow customers to manage their gambling activity. New customers should be made aware of these tools when signing up.

“This guidance is intended to help fellow citizens and provides an opportunity for gambling companies to demonstrate their willingness to take responsibility during these challenging times,” EGBA secretary general Maarten Haijer.

“These are simple but essential measures which all gambling companies should adopt to protect their customers, step up their social responsibility efforts and ensure their advertising is conducted in an ethical and responsible way. We urge all online gambling companies to adhere to them.”

The comments echo similar guidance issued by the EGBA earlier this year when many countries were experiencing their first wave of Covid-19, with much of this focusing on responsible advertising.

The EGBA followed this up by publishing the first pan-European code of conduct for responsible advertising for online gambling, with a key aim of protecting minors.

However, the EGBA has disputed claims that national lockdowns could lead to an increase in online gambling, instead saying activity would decline. In April, the organisation said these claims were “unfounded” and cited research from H2 Gambling Capital that said igaming revenue was likely to fall in 2020.

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