BGC pledges to maintain safer gambling momentum. Michael Dugher.

BGC celebrates ‘freedom of choice’ as industry reacts to White Paper

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has welcomed the publication of the Gambling Act review White Paper, lauding the legislative proposals as a ‘once in a generation moment for change’.

Issuing two separate statements shortly after DCMS Secretary Lucy Frazer announced the reforms to parliament and the White Paper was published to the DCMS website, Michael Dugher, BGC CEO, emphasised that the association has worked ‘extremely hard and closely’ with the government over the 28 months of the review.

Dugher noted that the BGC – which was founded in July 2019, one year and six months prior to the review’s commencement in December 2020 – was established to examine reforms, but also represent the industry and the 110,000 who work within it.

“On behalf of our many members, the 110,000 people whose jobs rely on the regulated betting and gaming industry, and the 22.5 million people who enjoy a bet each month, we welcome the much-delayed publication of the Gambling White Paper,” Dugher remarked.

“We need time to consider the full detail and impacts of these proposals, but it is important to recognise the BGC has worked closely with government to deliver a wide-ranging package of balanced, proportionate and effective reforms.

“Our members generate £7.1bn for the economy and raise £4.2bn in tax every year, and the measures announced today should protect jobs and sustain that vital contribution, while also building on our own work to drive world-leading standards in safer gambling.”

Looking at the outcomes of the review, some of the BGC’s ideal outcomes have been achieved, such as the DCMS’ proposal to create a new ombudsman to handle customer complaints and redress. 

Additionally, Dugher welcomed the introduction of stake limits on slots – varying depending on the age of customers – and ‘overdue plans to modernise the regulation of the casino sector’.

On the issue of an research, education and treatment (RET) levy, he maintained that the BGC has long-called for the ‘enhanced contributions’ of its members to be made mandatory, pointing to voluntary industry donations of between £110m from 2019 and 2024.

Dugher continued: “We welcome the decision to reject proposals from anti-gambling prohibitionists for blanket, low level and intrusive affordability checks, as well as their calls for bans on advertising, sports sponsorship and consumer promotions, which would harm our best-loved sports like horse racing and football, threaten jobs and drive customers to the growing unsafe, unregulated gambling black market online.

“These proposed measures will mean significant change but hopefully much needed regulatory stability to ensure our members can focus entirely on delivering for customers.”

The BGC Chief Executive added that he remains hopeful that Ministers will ultimately reject the proposals made by ‘anti-gambling prohibitionists’, reiterating the Council’s long-held view that betting is ultimately a case of ‘freedom of choice’.

Casting a look over the White Paper, however, it is apparent that many of its proposals are not concrete, with many hinging on further consultations with stakeholders such as the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and NHS.

As the government prepares to move ahead with the consultations, Dugher remains adamant that the BGC’s members will continue to focus on finding a balance between player protection whilst not impacting non-problem gamblers enjoyment of betting.

He concluded: “This White Paper is a once in a generation moment for change and its publication must draw a line under the lengthy and often polarised debates on gambling. 

“Betting and gaming is popular, contrary to misconceptions, the numbers of people betting are stable and not increasing, problem gambling rates are stable and low, and our members are a genuine British business success story, ploughing billions into the economy. 

“The focus should now be on continuing to drive higher standards, whilst investing in jobs and businesses in the UK’s world leading regulated industry.”

You can read SBC’s in-depth breakdown of the Gambling Act review White Paper HERE

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