Over the past week we’ve been updating our readers about how the current Coronavirus pandemic has been affecting the gambling industry around the world. In the US, the casino industry has been shutting down major casinos in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Maryland, which is forcing the American Gambling Association (ASA) to ask the US government for financial aid for casinos and staff.
Whilst the UK gambling industry has not been hit as hard, we have seen sportsbook betting businesses suffer as major sporting events continue to be cancelled. The Gambling Commission has released some guidance to the industry that should help keep businesses running during this uncertain time.
Like many businesses in the UK that can facilitate it, the Commission has told all staff to work from home until further notice. However, they assured license holders that they are minimising any negative impact to their regulation, advice and other services with a Business Continuity Plan.
These plans allow businesses to keep working and reduce disruption in the event of emergency situation like the one we’re facing right now. Though, not all businesses will be able to run quite as smoothly, as the public are asked to stay indoors and avoid social contact.
The Gambling Commission’s guidance reminds operators that despite the stresses and difficulties that the Covid-19 pandemic is creating, they should still be following their legislation regarding public health and safety.
Land-based places that offer gambling, including casinos and bookmakers must ensure they still have sufficient staff to meet their licensing conditions. If there is not enough staff or management available, then a bookmaker that cannot comply will need to close to avoid breaking the codes of practice, which as we've seen recently can result in nasty costs.
For operators of online casino sites, the Commission has written a specific reminder to highlight the fact that there will likely be a surplus of people playing online during the crisis, as the public are urged to stay indoors unless it is necessary. There will be a lot of pressure for these sites, as they must ensure they are promoting responsible gambling and acting to reduce gambling relating harm.
The commission also urges licensed operators to ensure that they are bringing new players onto their sites in a responsible way, without exploiting the current crisis or people’s vulnerability during this time. How the gambling industry will fare without key sporting events and a reduced income in the players is uncertain, though.