Another well-known European regulator has reminded betting companies of their responsibilities during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, the UKGC issued a warning to all UK licence holders over how to conduct their business, today the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has issued a similar warning.
In a written communication to all operators that hold an MGA licence, the regulator advised firms to be aware of their duty to maintain responsible communications with customers who may have been forced to self-isolate or remain at home due to pandemic restrictions:
“We remind all licensees that, in accordance with the ‘Commercial Communications Regulations’ to which they are subject, all commercial communications must be socially responsible, especially in light of the current situation.”
The letter adds that the regulator would take a zero-tolerance approach if any operator is found to be sending out ‘COVID-19 led’ promotions or messaging to their customers. The letter also underlines that the existing licensing rules on communications must be held. This includes the obligation to ensure that no communication promotes antisocial behaviour, suggests that betting can help to resolve personal, social or professional problems, imply that gambling may help resolve employment problems or to suggest that gambling is a socially attractive activity.
The MGA has also urged all licensed operators to ensure that all of their affiliates, marketing partners and associated agencies are fully aware of the rules around communications during the current crisis.
The MGA letter also acknowledged the difficulties facing most licence holders, with retail premises closed and many staff working from home. But like the UKGC, the MGA is acutely sensitive to the further harm that could be done to the betting sector’s reputation if licence holders are seen to be exploiting the pandemic in order to encourage more people to bet online.