The regulated betting and gaming industry plays a major role supporting the UK economy
Betting and gaming industry: The Facts
How BGC Members Contribute
- Support 110,000 jobs, directly employing 44,000 people and 66,000 people in the supply chain
- Contribute £4.2bn to the Treasury in taxes every year
- Contribute £7.1bn in gross value added to the UK economy every year
At a time when hard pressed high-streets are struggling, betting shops help generate footfall. Research carried out before the pandemic by ESA Retail found 82 per cent of their customers visited at least once a week, with 89 per cent of them going on to visit other shops in the area.
Our members support the travel and tourism sector, particularly through casinos in major cities, generating over £140 million a year through international visitors.
BGC members are committed to growing the economy, they pledged to deliver 15,000 new tech jobs, as well as 5,000 new apprenticeships for young people looking to work in the industry.
EY Economic Contribution Report
Let's take a closer look
Betting and gaming is hugely popular
Around 22.5 million adults in the UK have a bet each month.
Whether it’s buying a lottery ticket, having a game of bingo, visiting a casino, playing online or having a wager on football, horseracing and other sports.
A poll by YouGov found 66% say betting has been part of British life and leisure for centuries, and 68% believe there is nothing wrong with having a flutter.
We believe that people have the right to spend their money as they choose – providing those at risk of gambling related harm get the support they need.
Rates of problem gambling in the UK are low
gambling rates in the UK are low by international standards, according to the independent regulator. The latest figures from the Gambling Commission show 0.3 per of the adult population are problem gamblers, down from 0.4 per cent the previous year. The equivalent figures in Italy, Norway and France are 2.4 per cent, 1.4 per cent and 1.3 per cent respectively.
Safer gambling is now a pillar of the regulated betting and gaming industry’s business models and a priority for the BGC year-round. In 2021, we created Take Time To Think, a multi-media campaign designed to raise awareness about safer gambling tools. That campaign has been seen on TV in millions of homes, on social media and in sporting venues around the country and continues to this day.
Safer Gambling Week is a very different campaign, but no less effective. For one week every year, betting and gaming operators around the country – betting shops, casinos, arcades, bingo clubs and online operators – come together to promote responsible betting and gaming. In 2022, the campaign extended to Ireland and Europe. Now in its fifth year, Safer Gambling Week 2022 was the most successful ever, securing nearly 30 million impressions on social media.
Betting and gaming industry: The Facts
Funding for Research, Education and Treatment for gambling harm
BGC members have been at the forefront of funding for Research, Education and Treatment (RET) to tackle gambling related harm for over two decades. This is paid for through a unique voluntary levy scheme.
The UK now boasts a diverse network of specialist gambling treatment centres and support services. This network of independent charities treats around 85% of all problem gamblers receiving treatment in the UK.
Our four largest members pledged £110 million to be administered by GambleAware by March 2024 to fund this network. In addition, BGC members donated £10 million to YGAM and GamCare to deliver an education programme which has so far reached 2 million young people across the UK, and we support a wide range of other charities accredited by the Gambling Commission to deliver RET services. Crucially, BGC members have no say on how this RET money is sent.
Our Chairman Brigid Simmonds has written on the subject. You can find out more here >
Advertisements for betting and gaming does not create problem gambling
The UK government has previously pointed to academic research which did not prove a causal link between advertisements and the development of problem gambling. However, we are not complacent and continue to raise standards, to protect the vulnerable and promote safer gambling.
All betting advertising and sponsorship must comply with strict guidelines and safer gambling messaging is regularly and prominently displayed. It should also be noted that betting operators’ logos cannot be used on children’s clothing – including replica football kits.
Our chief executive Michael Dugher has written on the subject of sponsorship and advertising here >
Safer gambling and advertising
BGC members have significantly increased the number of safer gambling messages since the pandemic. Now, 20 per cent of all TV and radio adverts are safer gambling messages and a new Industry Code of Conduct means BGC members must ensure all social media ads are targeted at consumers aged 25 and over.
Our flagship whistle-to-whistle ban means that for live games before the 9pm watershed, betting ads cannot be shown from five minutes before the game until five minutes after it ends. Research found that in its first 12 months in operation, the ban led to a 97% reduction in the number of TV betting adverts seen by children at that time. More recently, the number of TV betting adverts shown on ITV during the 2022 World Cup group stages fell by 34% compared to the last World Cup.
Industry Insights and Educating Facts
Betting sponsorship supports sport
BGC members are proud to support UK sport, from the grassroots to elite level. The industry contributes around £350 million a year to racing, £40 million to the EFL and £12.5 million for snooker, darts and rugby league. Without this funding, many sports would have struggled to survive the pandemic.
Young people and gambling
Our members have a zero-tolerance approach to under 18s gambling and we use a variety of means, including age and ID-verification checks, to prevent children accessing products. Research in 2022 by the independent regulator the Gambling Commission showed that the most popular forms of betting by children were legal arcade games like penny pusher and claw grab machines, bets between friends and fruit machines – not with BGC members.
The unsafe, unregulated black market is growing. Research by PwC found the number of customers using unlicensed betting websites has more than doubled, from 210,000 in 2019 to 460,000 in 2020 and the money staked is in the billions. The growth in black market betting results in lost tax revenue and reduced funding for sport. A competitive regulated market is the only effective deterrent to the growing black market.
Gambling and suicide
Suicide is a tragedy and extremely complex, and most of the time there is no single event or factor that leads someone to take their own life. Gambling disorder and self-harm are both serious subjects and deserve to be treated seriously.
That is why we are concerned about figures from the now closed Public Health England which are often quoted as fact. We do not recognise their figure of 409 suicides each year because it is based on an extrapolation of a small Swedish study of 2,099 people, and the study’s authors specifically said it should not be applied to other countries. The Department of Health and Social Care has now admitted that PHE made a fundamental "mistake" in its calculation.
The UK has a well-established, robust system of regulation dating back to the 1960s when betting shops were first legalised. The Gambling Commission has far-reaching investigation and enforcement powers and can and does impose tough financial sanctions against operators that fail to comply with their licence conditions. To further protect customers, the BGC has called for the creation of an independent ombudsman to address concerns around customer redress. We believe the Ombudsman should be mandatory for all gambling licence holders.
Gambling reform and the White Paper
We welcomed the launch of the gambling review in 2020 and we have engaged constructively with stakeholders throughout the process. Our view has always been that change is needed but ministers must strike the right balance, protecting the most vulnerable, while ensuring the millions who enjoy a flutter have the freedom to do so without state intrusion. It’s vital that we get this reform right, not just for our industry and the tens of thousands of jobs it supports, but for the future funding of racing and other sports. That’s why we want to see the White Paper published as soon as possible. It is not in our members’ interests to delay it.
The BGC is in favour of targeted spending checks focussed on the minority of problem gamblers and those vulnerable to harm. But we do not support the suggestion of blanket affordability checks. Multiple survey’s have found punters reject these checks and find them intrusive, and worryingly, they could be driving customers to do the unregulated black market.