Gambling during lockdown: how gambling companies should keep you safe
05 November 2020
During these unprecedented and difficult times, we are continuing to do all we can to reduce the risk of gambling harm.
Following the Government’s latest announcement to close all non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues, we expect more people will be engaging with online gambling websites over the coming four weeks. We have already issued a reminder to all licensed gambling companies and outlined our ongoing expectations on them to keep consumers safe.
The guidance below outlines the protections that are in place for you as a consumer, as well as actions you can take to help manage your gambling or exposure to gambling advertising on social media. We encourage you to look at these as they are an important part of how gambling companies are required to protect you from harm.
Gambling should not be used to improve personal finances
We know that some people will be experiencing financial uncertainty during this time, however it is important to not use gambling as a way of improving your financial situation.
Online gambling sites have facilities built into them that allow consumers to set a limit on how much they are spending on that site. This can be a useful way for both you as a consumer and for the gambling company to keep spend at a manageable level.
If your main motivation to gamble is to escape debt, or if you are using gambling in order to make money quickly, there are organisations who can help you with money concerns.
Limit the amount of gambling related content you see on social media
We have partnered with Twitter and Facebook to create guidance aimed at supporting users who want to limit the amount of gambling-related content they see on those social media platforms.
The guidance explains the different ways in which safety tools and settings can be adjusted within your account to help reduce the risk of you seeing gambling related messaging and advertisements.
You can read our guides on controlling gambling related content you see on Twitter and controlling gambling related content you see on Facebook
If you're worried about how much time you spend gambling you can ask to be self-excluded
Self-exclusion is when you ask a gambling company to stop you from gambling with them for a certain length of time. It's used when you think that you have a problem with gambling and want help to stop. Self-exclusion can be useful when you have made the decision to stop gambling.
GAMSTOP is an online multi-operator self-exclusion scheme and has been available since April 2018. All gambling businesses must participate in this scheme. GAMSTOP works by preventing you from using gambling websites and apps run by companies licensed in Great Britain.
To register and find out more you can visit the GAMSTOP website (opens in new tab.)
Consider using gambling website blocking software
You can download gambling blocking software onto your devices, or use applications like GamBan (opens in new tab) which allows you to block your access to gambling websites or other online gambling services. You can read more about how to restrict or block gambling activity.
Block gambling payments with your bank
Many banks now offer the ability to limit spending on gambling. If you feel that you are spending too much money on gambling, you may want to consider blocking gambling payments with your bank.
They do this by blocking your bank account or debit card which stops the account from being used for gambling transactions.
Make sure the gambling business is licensed by us
Before you gamble, check that the business has a Gambling Commission licence. In the current circumstances we know there is an increased risk of illegal overseas websites trying to seek British customers. These sites may not have any of the protections that we require.
If the business has a Gambling Commission licence, you will be protected by consumer and gambling protection rules in Great Britain. Licensed gambling businesses must display that they are licensed and also provide a link to our public register.
The public register allows you to see what type of activities gambling businesses can offer, and if we have ever taken any regulatory action against them.
Always read terms and conditions
Gambling businesses must make a summary of their terms and conditions available to you.
You should take the time to read the terms and conditions, making sure you are aware of exactly what you are gambling on, restrictions, free offers and bonuses.
Keep your gambling activity under control
A useful way of keeping your gambling activity in control is to monitor how often you are gambling. If you gamble online the websites you use must provide access to your account activity.
This means you'll be able to see:
- when you have gambled
- how much money you have spent during a gambling session
- how often you log in
- how much time you are spending on the site.
This information may help you understand whether you are spending too much time or money gambling. You will be able to make informed decisions and set yourself limits.
Talk to someone if you are feeling overwhelmed
Remember that although many of us are having to limit contact with others, when it comes to support and advice about your gambling habits, you are not alone. Talking about the issues you are facing can help you to cope with the situation you are in.
GamCare's National Gambling Helpline offers confidential advice, support and information on problem gambling.
National Gambling Helpline
0808 8020 133 Free of charge, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Chat with a GamCare advisor (opens in new tab) Free of charge, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
You can find more information about the signs of problem gambling on the GambleAware website (opens in new tab).
Public Health England has also issued Every Mind Matters guidance (opens in new tab) with tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing if you need to stay at home.
Last updated: 27 August 2023
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