Search For Online Casino Hits ‘All-Time High’ During Pandemic
Various organizations and industry regulators revealed significant increases in searches and registration in online casinos during government imposed stay-at-home measures
Google Trends revealed that gamblers shifted to online platforms amidst traditional casino closings and the cancellation of sports events. Experts see the rise in the number of people hooked to online gambling as a contributor to the increase in problem gambling.
However, the Gambling Commission, UK’s gambling watchdog, said that there was no evidence that there is an increase in problem gambling to some rise in online gambling.
Problem gambling risks rise as online gambling gains popularity
The Commission revealed that the frequency of players playing online slots, poker, casino gaming, and virtual sports increased despite the overall decline in gambling. Data showed that engaged gamblers spent more time and money while they were in quarantine.
The UK charity that helps with problem gambling, GamCare, is concerned about the risk the rise in online gambling brings. Anna Hemmings, chief executive of the charity, said that contributing factors to gambling problems like financial distress, isolation, and boredom increased because of the pandemic.
The Commission released new guidelines for gambling companies to follow to help customers prone to problem gambling. Niel McArthur, chief executive of the Commission, said that they were closely monitoring online operators and suspending licenses if they were irresponsibly behaving.
According to Steve, a person in recovery for compulsive gambling, access to online gambling on mobile phones during lockdown is a recipe for disaster. After signing in for help, Steve reached the credit limit of his cards and made 14 concurrent payday loans to pay his debt.
The UK moves to regulate gambling
The gambling industry released an order to ban radio and TV commercials of online gambling platforms during the lockdowns to help against problem gambling. However, complaints were received about the flood of online advertisements.
Steve is confident that companies are nor offering better bonus offers, and he is worried that it might lead to problem gambling since there are no other distractions while they are in quarantine.
Great Britain banned gambling using credit cards and e-wallets like PayPal, Skrill, and Neteller since April 14. Gamcare noted that the use of credit cards worsened some people’s issues since they can chase their losses with funds that they cannot pay.
HSBC UK credit cards reported that at least £16.5m was used for gambling since the year started, averaging £65 per transaction. The bank claimed that they are receiving an average of 1,000 gambling-related calls in a month.
Gamstop, a free service that allows gamblers to self-exclude from online gambling sites with one registration, has registered all online gambling operations in the UK since the end of March. Gamstop saw an increasing number of people asking for the reverse of their self-exclusion. Google reported that there is an increase in searches for casinos not listed in Gamstop.
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