Online Casino Searches Reach Record High

It seems that not every industry has been adversely affected by lockdown. Online casinos have seen an all-time high number of Internet searches in the UK since we were all told to stay at home, reports the BBC. According to Google Trends, more people have been getting their gambling fix online to make up for the cancellation of sporting events and the close of brick-and-mortar casinos.

Gambling activity may have decreased overall, but there’s been an increase in online casino searches, an industry that was already getting a lot of love from Google. The commission said that more gamblers have been enjoying playing online casino games and virtual sports. The data shows that these gamblers are also investing either more time or money during the lockdown.

Problem gamblers told the BBC that the lockdown could mean disaster. Watchdog the Gambling Commission, however, confirmed that while there has been an increase in online gambling and online searches, the same can’t be said for problem gambling.

Anna Hemmings, chief executive for a charity for problem gamblers called GamCare, said that such contributing factors as boredom, isolation, and finial distress were only getting worse with coronavirus. And the watchdog has updated its guidelines designed for gambling companies to help their customers.

Problem Gamblers

Earlier in May, the gambling industry vowed to pause TV and radio advertising during the lockdown. However, recovering problem gamblers have expressed concerns over their exposure to advertising online. One problem gambler, Steve, who is married and works as a manager, told the BBC that he had used up all of his credit cards and took out 14 payday loans to handle his debts. He eventually sought help. Steve is also confident that gambling companies are offering better bonus offers than ever before and worries about those who are on the verge of becoming problem gamblers.

It didn’t take long for another problem gambler, former landscape gardener Dan, to accumulate £50,000 of debt. Dan said that he tried to borrow from family and friends without intended to repay them and ended up being blacklisted due to a history of lying.

Credit Cards Banned

Credit cards and such e-wallets as Neteller, Skrill, and PayPal were no longer allowed as payment methods for gambling in Britain from mid-April. GamCare said that gamblers used credit cards to make their problems worse as they chased losses with funds, they were in no position to repay.

Since the beginning of the year, there had already been more than £16.5 million gambled using HSBC UK credit cards, with a £65 average transaction. The company said that they are receiving 1,000 gambling-related calls per month on average.

Self-Exclusion

Since the end of March, every gambling operator in Britain has been told they must register with Gamstop– a service that enables gamblers to exclude themselves from one-registration gambling sites. They choose how long they want to be minimally excluded for, with options ranging from six months to five years.

Since the beginning of the lockdown period, Gamstop has seen more people asking for their self-exclusion status to be changed. Once they’re signed up to the service, however, they’re unable to cancel until their minimum period has expired.

Operations Suspended

The commission has taken action by suspending the operation of two companies who failed to register with Gamstop when they were initially asked. It said it would close down any non-licensed companies or individuals that engaged with consumers illegally.

It also said that it expected these operators to step up if they are witness to any harm done by gambling and to perform checks on their member’s funding sources. The commission added that they take any failures to adhere to their rules very seriously.

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