BGC pledges to maintain safer gambling momentum. Michael Dugher.

BGC: Mandatory RET levy must protect interests of land-based operators

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) states that its members will support a mandatory levy to fund Research, Education, and Treatment (RET) services. However, the government must guarantee that the levy is “independent and tiered to protect land-based operators.” 

The trade body outlined that for the past two decades, its members have contributed millions in RET funding through a voluntary levy on all operators. The BGC’s four largest members alone pledged an additional £110m in 2019, to be administered by independent charity GambleAware by March 2024.

In addition, a new RET system must guarantee the success of replacing the voluntary levy that has provided direct support to “an independent network of charities which treats around 85% of all problem gamblers receiving treatment in the UK.”

BGC CEO Michael Dugher stated: “I have said for some time that I am relaxed about a so-called statutory levy given that the money is already on the table from BGC members, it is already allocated independently of the industry and given that it was the BGC who proposed to the government last year that contributions should be mandatory.”

Of significance,  Dugher emphasized the need for continued sustainable funding that recognizes the cost pressures on land-based operators and ensures that funds are distributed effectively and genuinely independently.

The council is concerned about the potential for a blanket 1% fee on all members, which could disproportionately impact land-based operators, such as bingo halls, casinos, and betting shops, due to their higher fixed costs.

Land-based incumbents are already struggling to recover post-Covid, facing economic headwinds like rising operating costs and high inflation.

Dugher warned, “The Government claim they believe in low regulation and low taxes for businesses, so they need to avoid this new tax leading to job losses or more businesses going bust.” BGC members contribute £7.1bn to the economy, generate £4.2bn in tax, and support 110,000 jobs.

The BGC supports the Gambling White Paper as a further opportunity to raise standards and deliver jobs and growth.

However, it cautions against changes that could drive customers to the unsafe, unregulated gambling black market, where betting numbers have doubled in recent years and the amount wagered is in the billions.

“Any new system must be tiered to protect land-based operators like bingo, casinos and betting shops, who have disproportionately higher fixed costs because of buildings and tens of thousands of staff,” Dugher concluded

“They are still struggling post-covid, like every other retail, hospitality and entertainment business, with all the difficult economic headwinds.”

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