The UK Gambling Commission has released new advice for gambling companies holding UK licences in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Commission says that it is basing its advice on guidance from Public Health England, having told all of its staff to work from home, encouraging other operators to do the same.
But the regulator has also said that if facilities for gambling are still open, licensees have to ensure that they have enough staffing and oversight in the venue to ensure that they are in compliance with all relevant licence conditions and associated codes of practice.
The Commission added that licensees have to assess their ability to sustain compliance with the rules and to consider either full or partial suspension of operations if they can’t meet the requirements.
In terms of online operators, the Commission points out that social distancing means more people are set to be working from home. As a result, operators have to make sure they maintain standards of responsible operation, including social responsibility checks and customer affordability:
“We realise that the unprecedented changes to daily life, and in some cases, financial uncertainty, will create challenges for your business. The changes will also increase the risks to some individuals, which means that despite the fact that these are challenging times we must all continue to protect consumers.”
The Commission said it does not have the ability to reduce licence fees for operators and is not able to fast track applications. It added that all licence submissions would be dealt with by staff working from home and that it would be prioritising these administrative issues.
Gambling operators, particularly those offering sports betting have been hit hard by a combination of government-recommended social distancing and by the cancellation of most high-profile sports events in the UK, with no indication at this stage when the situation might change.