MPs Urge UK Firms to Limit Gambling to £50 per Day During CoronaVirus Crisis

The change in gambling and betting patterns due to the coronavirus pandemic has seen politicians in the UK calling for firms to self-impose a betting cap of £50 per day per customer

By: Andrew Burnett

With almost all major international sporting events cancelled or postponed, and most domestic ones too, online gambling firms are offering up ever-more obscure events for punters to bet on.

According to the Guardian newspaper, a Spanish man who set up an international tournament of the FIFA computer game was incensed to find bookmakers offering odds on it.

Another instance saw bookmakers William Hill promoting “international soccer action”, which was in reality the Belarus Premier League.

Labour’s Carolyn Harris, worried about the possible gambling-addiction effects of such promotions, claimed: “It’s the industry trying to capitalise on a national disaster, encouraging problem gambling with reckless and foolhardy behaviour.”

She added in a cross-party letter industry trade body the Betting & Gaming Council: “If they’re targeting someone to bet on this kind of sport, or computer-generated events, it can only be because that person is someone with a problem, to be gambling on something that obscure."

Computer-generated football matches have been promoted online by both Betway and MansionBet, while an email from a senior manager at William Hill to staff implored them to “talk to your customers about what other things they can bet on – table tennis and Japanese baseball are proving very popular.”

The politicians’ letter to the BGC, backed by the Conservatives’ Iain Duncan Smith and Scottish National Party MP Ronnie Cowan, offered a compromise to negate the most harmful effects.

It stated: “If the industry were to self-impose a daily limit of £50 … it would be a clear demonstration that the industry is willing to act responsibly and do what they can to protect society and peoples’ finances, at this dreadful time.”

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