Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) CEO Michael Dugher has expressed concern that the impending review of the Gambling Act 2005 has lost “real oversight and a genuine strategic approach”.
Dugher questioned: “What exactly is the government trying to achieve with its gambling White Paper?”, as the consistently delayed White Paper is still yet to be published.
Writing an op-ed in The Times, Dugher explained his concerns over prohibitionists: “The anti-gambling lobby have their demands. They want the government to tell people how much they are allowed to spend on betting and for people to be forced to hand over confidential documents, such as payslips and bank statements, if they spend £100.”
“They want a complete ban on all advertising and sports sponsorship. They want a new hypothecated tax on the industry — a statutory levy to fund RET.”
Whilst the BGC has welcomed certain interventions on the UK gambling industry, he noted that reformists’ demands have caused friction, noting: “The creation of an ombudsman to improve consumer redress, there’s more to be done on advertising and sports sponsorship, we’d welcome enhanced funding for independent research, education and treatment (RET), and we desperately need to update antiquated restrictions holding back casinos.”
“For online gambling, building on best practice and changes we’ve already introduced, we want to see more financial checks on customers, but think these need to be carefully targeted to tackle problem gambling and to protect the vulnerable.”
Working with members, the BGC has already implemented strategic reforms to UK gambling, most notably changing operators’ approach to interacting with young people.
Dugher branded the voluntary whistle-to-whistle advertising ban on live football, as one of the most successful initiatives – which delivered “a 97% drop in young people seeing such adverts. This is making a difference, at last year’s World Cup”
The BGC has secured wholesale changes to safeguarding young people from gambling, not only reducing TV advertising exposure, but blocking advertising on social media to ensure that adverts are only seen by adults.
The industry’s new approach is further enhanced by the BGC members’ £10m investment in ‘Young People’s Gambling Harm Prevention Programme’, overseen by the charities YGAM and GamCare, which has engaged over 2 million children on safer gambling.