MP’s in the UK have asked online betting companies to introduce a temporary £50 daily betting limited on customers during the current coronavirus crisis, as some evidence has emerged showing players are taking more risks on bets during a time when no live sport is available.
After the cancellation of major events such as Premier League football and all horse racing, betting firms have been strongly promoting more obscure competitions and events such as virtual sports and casino games, things randomly generated and that punters have no control over.
Bookmakers Look to Diversify
32Red have recently advertised on Twitter to attempt to grab more customers for its online games portfolio, which cannot be controlled and lead to higher rates of gambling addiction.
Betway, recently fined £11.6million or its procedural failures, and MansionBet have paid for Google advertising to show off their array of virtual events, meaning players bet on computer-generated matches.
At one point, bookmakers even offered odds on a Fifa computer match set up by a Spanish player, who immediately scolded them for the stunt.
MP’s Stress Their Concern in Letter
Writing to the Betting and Gaming Council, cross-party MP’s examining gambling-related harm have urged companies not to put their own income ahead of their customers’ wellbeing.
The letter states that MP’s are deeply concerned that as the country enters deeper into this crisis, people are turning to online gambling as a distraction, and that if the industry were to self-impose a daily limit of £50 it would act as a clear demonstration that they are willing to act responsibly.
The MP’s also asked for a block on any customers opening multiple accounts during this time along with faster intervention with those who show signs of problem gambling.
Industry experts have warned that those with a gambling addiction, many of whom are now at home permanently in isolation, will be prone to bet on events the outcome of which they cannot control or accurately estimate.
NHS Equally Concerned
The NHS clinical lead for the northern gambling clinics, Matt Gaskell, has also spoken out to say that in these clinics some of the most harmful gambling is that which changes to wagering on things people know nothing about.
The bookmakers here, it is feared, may be targeted people to bet on these kinds of events which can only be because some people have a problem and will gamble on anything, something that simply has to lead to more profits as the results are computer-generated.
Gambling companies during this time have been labelled as “appalling” given that in the middle of this COVID-19 crisis, they are still desperate to ensure that those who regularly gamble can throw their money away on events they know very little about.
As well as the criticism emanating from their online activities, those in the bookmaking industry have faced concern from workers amid calls that they should have closed their shops before being ordered to by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Some bookmakers had told their staff that it was “business as usual” last week, until the government ordered the closure of all betting shops and casinos along with non-essential shops, restaurants, pubs and cinemas.
While it’s clear that betting firms have acted irresponsibly here and that needs to be dealt with immediately, the flat £50 daily limit being suggest yet again doesn’t take into consideration every gambler’s means, knowledge or betting opportunities.
For example, a pro gambler betting on American or Australian horse racing still has that option currently and so suddenly imposing a limit on them for activities and faults not created by them, would seem to be extremely unfair indeed.