Given the fact that Romania is also affected by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, which temporarily changed both the economic and social context, imposing social distance and self-isolation, the Responsible Gambling Association is aligned with the initiatives initiated by other non-governmental organizations and companies, and launches 24/7 online psychological counseling service dedicated to supporting on-call medical staff, Ministry of Interior employees, and all persons who feel the need to call for such a service. The approach comes to complement the online psychological counseling 24/7 that the Association launched in September last year and which is dedicated to people with gambling problems.
At the same time, the new service is based on the expertise and experiences gained in online psychological counseling to support people in major difficulties and comes in response to the fact that the urban population is increasingly psychologically affected by the coronavirus epidemic.
What is happening internationally
For example, major UK gambling operators are stepping up their efforts to provide additional protection for players during the period of isolation caused by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Thus, the members of the Betting and Gambling Council (BGC) – the only association of the UK’s industry, which brings together approximately 90% of the operators (except lotteries) – adopted a ten-point action plan, with the aim of further strengthen the initiatives related to responsible gambling during the pandemic.
The most important recommendation addressed to BGC members is that they have to monitor the amount of time the players spend as well as the amounts of money they place on gambling during that period and promptly intervene if they do increase compared to the levels recorded before the SARSCoV-2 crisis started. Also, online betting and gambling operators are required to intensify responsible gaming messages addressed to all customers, through their websites and the applications they operate. In fact, operators have already started actively promoting tools that allow players to set a certain amount of money to use for gambling.
Moreover, any affiliate marketing action that is conducted in an irresponsible manner and in violation of the recommendations included in the BGC action plan during the pandemic, will be eliminated immediately, and all members must ensure that there will be no growth of initiatives direct marketing to customers, except those who promote tools that support the concept of responsible gaming.
“In this period of national crisis, in which many people are in self-isolation and respecting social spacing, it is vital to do everything possible to ensure responsible gambling and to protect potentially vulnerable or at-risk people. We all know that the industry collapsed not only because of the suspension of the activity of bookmakers and casinos, but also because of the absence of the championships, so essential for sports betting. Although the volume of gambling decreased dramatically during the SARS-CoV-2 crisis, our commitment to responsible gambling is making significant progress, ”said Michael Dugher, Executive Director of BGC.
For its part, the European Association of Betting and Gambling (EGBA) has developed a new guide on how operators should safely and responsibly promote their products during the coronavirus pandemic. Thus, according to the EGBA recommendations, gambling operators should not make any reference to coronavirus, to the statements made by the World Health Organization (WHO) on this subject, or to any other pandemic developments in the marketing campaigns they have runs.
Also, operators have been warned to ensure that their advertising does not describe gambling as a solution to social, personal or financial problems triggered by the SARS-CoV-2 crisis, nor to invite customers to play online games, as an alternative to boredom. In addition, all advertisements and websites of online operators should contain information that will be marked in the form of age-related indicators, tel-green lines for gambling problems or car registrations-exclusion.
“EGBA is committed to setting standards across the entire online gambling industry, and these are important measures that we believe gambling operators should take to protect their customers and ensure that the publicity they carry out takes place in an ethical and socially responsible manner, ”said EGBA Secretary General Maarten Haijer. Countries that have already signed up to this new code include the UK, France, Portugal, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Malta, Italy, Norway, Austria and the Netherlands.