Gambling Commission issues guidance in light of COVID-19 outbreak

United Kingdom

The outbreak and spread of COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”) continues to impact daily life across the globe. Specifically, in the UK, over 3,000 people have tested positive for Coronavirus and 144 deaths have been reported. The Public Health England guidance has, amongst other measures, instructed businesses to encourage employees to work from home, where possible.

The Gambling Commission (the “Commission”) has confirmed that it has implemented its business continuity plan and all its employees are now working from home and has published guidance for licensees in light of the Coronavirus.

Current Operators and Licensees

The Commission has stated that it expects all operators to follow applicable Public Health England guidance and to ensure compliance with the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (the “LCCP”) that apply to their licence.

The Commission has instructed licensees to assess their ability to maintain compliance with the LCCP. They have stated that if licensees are unable to maintain compliance, they should consider voluntary partial or full suspension of their offerings, until such time that they are able to comply with the LCCP. They have stated that “Our expectation remains that licensees ensure the maintenance of sufficient management, staffing and oversight in order to uphold the licensing objectives.”

Fees and New Applications

Where new operating licences, variations or changes to licences are being applied for, the Commission has advised that company related documentation should not be sent to the Commission via post and should instead be scanned and sent via email to the operator’s account manager. The Commission has confirmed that they will be unable to fast track any application.

Additionally, the Commission has stated that licensing fees will not be reduced. 

Online Operators

As people are being encouraged to stay at home, the Commission has reminded online operators to continue to: “act responsibly, especially in regards to individual customer affordability and increased social responsibility interactions.”

The Commission has provided a list of expectations for online operators which includes assessing individual affordability, onboarding new customers in a socially responsible way without exploiting the current situation for marketing purposes and ensuring intervention where customers are showing signs of gambling related harms.

The Commission has confirmed that they will continue to monitor the situation and will communicate any further changes to their expectations accordingly.

Article co-authored by Fatima Butt.