BGC calls on Sunak to deliver ‘pro-business budget’

BGC calls on Sunak to deliver ‘pro-business budget’

The UK’s betting industry is prepared to support the government’s upcoming budget amid heightened financial uncertainty for the country, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has said.

However, with one of the biggest betting events of the UK sporting calendar commencing today at Cheltenham Racecourse, the trade body has called on the government to address the needs of the industry and its customers in tomorrow’s budget.

Specifically calling for a ‘pro-business budget’, BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher has also argued against any new business taxes – such as an increase in gaming tax, for example – and for a ‘well-balanced’ White Paper.

As well as falling in line with the major betting event of Cheltenham, the budget also comes as the government prepares the White Paper on the Gambling Act review, potentially introducing far-reaching reforms in gambling regulation.

“The regulated industry already plays a huge role in the UK economy, and we are keen to go further and contribute even more,” Dugher remarked.

“But in order to deliver on this ambition, we need a pro-business budget, no new tax rises and a balanced gambling White Paper that protects the vulnerable while not spoiling the customer experience of the majority who bet perfectly safely.

“Our industry includes world-leading British tech, as well as businesses supporting high street retail, plus those in the hospitality, tourism and leisure sectors. Ministers should be protecting investment and jobs at this challenging time.”

Asserting that the betting industry is willing to support the government’s four pillars of ‘Enterprise, Education, Employment and Everywhere’, Dugher took time to reiterate the sector’s financial contribution.

The BGC has noted several times over the duration of the now two-year long Gambling Act review that the industry’s economic role – supporting 110,000 jobs, generating £4.2bn in tax and contributing £7.1bn to the economy in gross value added – should be considered by the government.

Meanwhile, with the opening races of Cheltenham having just started, the BGC further noted that the event is an example of betting and by extension racing’s local economic contribution.

274,000 people are due to attend the festival, generating an estimated £274m for the local economy, and around £1bn will be staked across four days of racing – however, Dugher warned that potential ‘draconian’ measures could impact the future viability of these events.

Affordability checks in particular are an area of concern for the BGC, which recently highlighted a Racing TV survey suggesting that many punters could turn away from legal bookmakers if they feel their financial privacy is being infringed on.

“We want to see big changes that will further strengthen safer gambling, but new taxes and draconian regulations will put businesses at risk,” he continued. “We need to see long overdue changes to help land based casinos in particular with their recovery. 

“And we need to stop intrusive, blanket low level ‘affordability checks’, such as those called for by the anti-gambling lobby, which only serve to drive customers to the unsafe, unregulated black market online where there are none of the safer gambling protections that exist in the regulated industry and where not a penny is paid in tax to the Exchequer.”

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