The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) is the regulation and licensing authority of all online casinos registered in the United Kingdom. They are the ones who determine whether an online casino is licensed to operate in the UK based on a series of evaluation criteria. As we continue our battle against the Covid-19 Pandemic by residing in our homes, inevitably, many existing problem gamblers will resort to online gambling to alleviate their problem.
This could potentially result in a series of social issues subsequently if it goes unmanaged. As an honourable member of society and the main regulatory authority in the UK, the UKGC should do whatever they can to help problem gamblers curb their addiction during this period. In this article, I will be talking about some of how the UKGC can help gamblers to tide over this period of boredom as they get locked down at home.
We humans are social creatures that require constant interaction of some sort with other people even for introverts. However, with the current ongoing pandemic, we have been forced to stay within the boundaries of our homes to protect our loved ones and family. However, within our walls, another potential problem could be brewing. With the proliferation of online casinos and internet access, people can gamble from the comforts of their homes. For those with gambling issues, the lockdown could potentially reignite their draw towards online gambling as a way of alleviating their boredom.
Currently, the UKGC in partnership with the UK government has a self-restriction program called gamstop which restricts registered people from accessing UKGC licensed online casino sites. The biggest loophole of this program is that it only prevents people from accessing sites registered under the UKGC. Sites that are registered with other foreign countries are not obliged to restrict UK citizens.
To have a more comprehensive coverage and effective program, here is what I would suggest the UKGC do. First, the UKGC should upgrade the existing gamstop platform and enhance the platform’s ability to pre-emptively detect sites that are potentially related to gambling, including sites showcasing any form of gambling-related advertisements.
Second, the UKGC should also partner and work out an agreement with other regulatory bodies in other parts of the world in having a master list of all online casino sites in the world. Therefore, instead of only banning sites that are registered under the UKGC, the UKGC can now also ban sites that are registered with other countries. This will help increase the list of online casinos not covered by gamstop and I believe to be more effective than the current state of things.
All in all, with the current quarantine measures that are put in place to help slow down the spread of the pandemic, many people are finding ways of alleviating their boredom. For problem gamblers, their comfort is to withdraw back to that online casino for some form of thrill and excitement. Being the regulatory body of the UK, the UKGC should do more to help curb the issues of problem gambling as it speaks to a wider social problem. While the UKGC already has an existing measure, this measure is insufficient and ineffective.
In this article, I have proposed two ways that the UKGC can explore in helping UK citizens fight problem gambling. The first involves working with technology companies to upgrade their existing algorithms to detect and ban sites that are not even registered with gamstop. The second requires working with other regulatory bodies to beef up their existing list of online casino sites in the world.