As online gambling soars in Milton Keynes, here's what will happen if you're still betting after one hour

Search interest in casinos online has hit an all-time high in MK since lockdown began, according to Google.

Thursday, 21st May 2020, 12:54 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st May 2020, 12:56 pm

Firms have been asked to contact customers still betting after an hour in one online session and "interact" with them to stop.

Data shows gamblers are also spending more time or money betting online during the coronavirus lockdown.

The closure of physical gambling venues and cancellation of sports events has led to a drop in gambling overall but a surge in popularity of online slots, poker, casino gaming and virtual sports.

Customers will be contacted after an hour spent gambling online

Anna Hemmings, chief executive of GamCare, a UK charity to help with problem gambling, said there was "a concerning context for people at risk" as contributing factors to gambling problems, such as financial distress, isolation and boredom were increasing with Covid-19 and government measures.

Watchdog body the Gambling Commission has now given new guidelines to gambling companies to help their customers.

These include interacting with customers who have been playing for an hour in a single session of play and ceasing to offer bonuses or promotions to all customers who are displaying indicators of harm.

Affordibility checks will be carried out on gamblers thought to have a problem and they could be blocked from playing if there is evidence they cannot afford it.

Reverse withdrawal options for customers will also be prevented until further notice and thresholds and triggers for new customers will be reviewed.

The commission says there there is no evidence to suggest an increase in problem gambling, but the shift in the market as a result of Covid-19 evidence shows a definite increase in the use of online gambling products..

GamCare's Anna Hemmings said gamblers needed to know help is available 24 hours a day and they do not need to suffer alone.

“The National Gambling Helpline is free to call and we have expanded our online services with more online information and chatrooms, a new online treatment course as well as our confidential live chat service. These can all be used discretely on laptop, tablet or mobile," she said.

There is also a free service called Gamstop that allows gamblers to self-exclude from online gambling sites with one registration.

They choose a minimum exclusion period of either six months, one year, or five years.

Meanwhile, using credit cards and e-wallets like PayPal, Skrill, and Neteller for gambling was banned in Great Britain from April 14.

The credit card ban had been first announced in January and it included the requirement for all online gambling operators in Great Britain to be registered with Gamstop, by March 31.