DCMS Select Committee Inquiry into Gambling Reforms has heard evidence and opinions provided by the executive team of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC).
Ahead of the imminent publishing of the first consultations of the Gambling Review’s White Paper, BGC Chief Executive, Michael Dugher and Standards and Innovation Executive Wes Himes, spoke on planned reforms.
The BGC stands by measures contained in the White Paper, which aim to raise standards, protect the vulnerable, preserve jobs, and implement the modernisation of UK gambling.
The trade body holds a positive view on the White Paper’s recommendations to adopt spending checks for online gambling, a mandatory levy to fund research and treatment, stake limits for online slots, and an industry ombudsman.
Yet, CEO Michael Dugher urged MPs to ensure a measured approach in implementing changes to protect the economic and labour contribution of a highly taxed industry.
“BGC members are proud to back hard-pressed high streets. However, there had been 2,000 closures of bookmakers, which have seen around 10,000 jobs lost since 2019,” Dugher explained.
“Betting shops currently support around 42,000 jobs, contribute £1bn a year in tax to the Treasury and another £60m in business rates to local councils. The regulated betting and gaming industry contributes £7.1bn to the economy, generates £4.2bn in tax and supports 110,000 jobs.”
In his address, Dugher cited the BGC members’ commitment to protect the 0.3% of problem gamblers recorded in the UK.
“Because that really is the thing that all of us have been trying to address,” Dugher told the committee.
Wes Himes added that the BGC had “developed 11 codes over the last three years, along with over 80 substantial measures which sit on top of regulation and legislation in order to create a safer gambling culture.”
Progress on safer gambling and player protection had been registered as problem gambling rates “have nearly halved since 2017 to 0.3% today – one of the lowest problem gambling rates internationally.”
The BGC will continue to offer its advice to DCMS and the Gambling Commission on upcoming reforms in which it supports the implementation of evidence-led policies.
As such, the BGC maintains that ” no evidence supports a link between sports advertising and problem gambling.”
Consequently, the BGC welcomed the modernisation plans for casinos contained in the White Paper to be sped up, as incumbents need “to get access to some of the liberalising and modernisation measures that might help to save some of those businesses and grow others.”
The Select Committee has heard wider industry evidence provided by John White, Chief Executive of Bacta, and Miles Baron, Chief Executive of the Bingo Association.