With the coronavirus pandemic, a significant rise in online gambling issues in the UK is unbelievable and according to the experts, a review of the British gambling industry there is inevitable. During the prolonged lockdowns, the greatest factors contributing to a significant surge in addiction, health- and gambling-related issues include chronic loneliness and boredom compounded by financial worries.

The social venues and commercial closure as well as the lengthening cancellation of the major sporting events are also the reasons for the gambling changing face not only in this country but also in the whole world. As stated by a spokesman for the Betting and Gaming Council in the CNBC channel, this body welcomes the Gambling Act's review and the government’s assurance.

Potentially Increase in Gambling Behaviour

The overall gambling harm has been at 0.5% for 20 years but due to the potential spike in harmful gambling, this rate can rise higher. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the physical casinos and betting shops have been locked down so the operators found another solution to keep their financial wheels turning by continuing their operations remotely.

With this new strategy, EU casino sites offer more options online and the rise of gambling companies is recorded up around 124% during the initial coronavirus crisis in March 2020. Some of the major firms that have received a big boost include Gamesys, Rank Group, and 888 Holdings. What’s more, one company that has seen a surge in growth during this pandemic is Bet365 Group Ltd.

The annual salary of this biggest British corporate CEO Denise Coates is £421 million making her one of the world's best-paid bosses. Anna Hemmings, CEO of GamCare, a charity to support gambling addiction stated that after the pandemic decline, people have to deal with the gambling issues. The number of people calling for help has increased and the nature of these calls is difficult to understand as more mental health and domestic violence have been recorded during the lockdowns.

Inadequate Rigorous Regulation

The UK Gambling Commission noted that the number of online gambling consumers has risen during the pandemic as they spend more time on gambling. This regulatory authority also found that people who are engaging in a range of gambling activities are more likely to experience moderate-risk and gambling-related problems. This risk of developing a gambling addiction is mainly due to the online slot machine's popularity.

As stated by Matt Zarb-Cousin, a co-founder of a gambling blocking software provider called Gamban, excessive gambling has been provoked by some factors. These can include the cancellation of the sports fixtures and the gambling firms’ growth advertising threefold since the first lockdown. The casual players have been attracted to more intense gambling activities like online slots and other casino games.

He also noted that the gambling operators’ rate who allows their customers to self-exclude from their services has actually shown a very small percentage due to their considerable revenues. Based on a study conducted by researchers at the University of Liverpool in 2020; the gambling companies that are identified as the most at risk of harm from gambling generated 86% of the companies’ GGY(Gross Gambling Yield).

A Prospected Well-balanced Gambling Review

The review of the Gambling Act 2005 is currently being undertaken by the British government. It includes a suitable gambling regulation for the digital age. The proliferation of gambling firms and smartphones has enabled online gambling to become omnipresent in the UK. According to Zarb-Cousin, the flexible gambling regulation established in this country permits these companies to become key contributors to the UK economy.

Although this industry has boosted economic growth, there hasn't been any modification and innovation in the gambling regulation. In fact, the government continues to further examine the industry's regulation, and as suggested by Zarb-Cousin, stricter gambling regulation should be inevitable in the coming years.

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has contributed to support the sports sponsorship with a good amount. This body's members have not only committed £10 million toward the Young People’s Gambling Harm Prevention scheme but have also offered £100 million for problem gambling treatment services by 2024. A spokesman for the BGC stated that the regulation strikes a balance between properly protecting the vulnerable players while not spoiling the enjoyment of the millions of British players who enjoy having fun in a safe environment.