Betting and Gaming Industry: The Facts
The regulated betting and gaming industry plays a major role supporting the UK economy, investing in jobs and growth and contributing to our public finances. Millions of people across the UK enjoy a flutter and the vast majority do so safely and responsibly. Our members have introduced a series of safeguards to support those at risk and are major contributors to some of the UK’s leading gambling education, research and treatment charities. This page has more information about our work to tackle problem gambling, our commitment to raise industry standards and how we’re delivering jobs and growth for Britain.
Since the BGC was formed in 2019, we have been focussed on raising industry standards, protecting our customers and investing in Britain’s future. These videos chart the progress we have made to date. There’s still more to do, and we’re committed to working with our members to create a safer betting environment.
The regulated betting and gaming industry makes a significant contribution to the UK economy. As a sector, we're committed to backing Britain and investing in jobs and growth.
A 2022 report by respected economic analysts EY assessed the contribution we make to UK plc. It found that BGC members:
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. Although their numbers have fallen in recent years, they remain an important and popular anchor for many high streets.
Our members also support the travel and tourism sector, particularly
through casinos in major cities, generating over £140 million a year
through international visitors. Many of our high-end casinos are regarded as amongst the best in the world.
Our members are global leaders in digital entertainment, with the online betting, gaming and bingo sector now on track to deliver 15,000 new high paid, high skilled tech jobs, as well as 5,000 new apprenticeships for
young people looking to work in the industry.
"This is a mature, popular, heavily-regulated and world-leading sector, contributing £4.2 billion in taxes and generating £7.1 billion for the economy, as well as ploughing many millions of pounds into sports this nation loves." Michael Dugher, Chief Executive, BGC
Betting and gaming is hugely popular form of entertainment, enjoyed safely by millions of people.
In fact, 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.
Betting has been part of the social fabric of Britain for generations. A YouGov poll found that 66 per cent of people say betting has been part of British life and leisure for centuries and 68 per cent believe there’s 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. That has been our priority as a standards body from day one.
BGC members are determined to ensure that Britain continues to bet safely. Our safer gambling message has reached millions of people - on TV and radio, in our venues and in sporting arenas across the country.
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.
Rates of problem gambling in the UK are low - but we're not complacent
Problem 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 cent 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. However, one problem gambler is one too many and there is no room for complacency. That's why our work continues to raise standards across the regulated industry, in marked contrast to dangers posed by the unsafe, unregulated and growing online black market.
Tackling misinformation: 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 misleading figures from the now disbanded 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.
Research, Education & Treatment Funding
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 £100 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 funding is spent.
Advertising & Marketing
The BGC is committed to socially responsible advertising and marketing.
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. Read more here >
BGC members have also taken action to curb under 18s viewing betting ads online through a new Code for Socially Responsible Advertising. The code requires that all social media ads must be targeted at customers aged 25 and over unless the website proves they can be precisely targeted at over 18s.
In addition, BGC members have implemented tough new rules on the use of VIP schemes. Customers are now subjected to rigorous checks before being signed up for such scheme and their betting behaviour is closely monitored on an ongoing basis.
Betting adverts do not lead to 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 >
The UK has a well-established, robust system of regulation dating back to the 1960s when betting shops were first legalised.
The industry regulator 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 surveys have found that punters reject these checks and find them intrusive, and worryingly, they could be driving customers to do the unregulated black market.
BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher has spoken to the Racing Post on the threat affordability poses - both to betting and racing. You can read his thoughts here>
"It is not the role of government to tell people how much of their salary they are 'allowed to' spend on gambling." Paul Scully MP, Gambling Minister
Sport & Safer Gambling
BGC members are proud to support UK sport, from the grassroots to elite level.
The industry contributes £384 million to horseracing through levy, media rights and sponsorship, £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.
But we are also clear that our support for popular sports like football must go hand in hand with safer gambling. Sporting venues across the country carry our safer gambling message to millions of fans and BGC members have introduced a raft of new safeguards to protect young fans (see below).
Protecting young people has been one of our core commitments from day one.
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.
Nevertheless, BGC members have introduced a series of measures to protect children and reduce their exposure to gambling advertising, including a whistle to whistle ban on live games pre watershed, a ban on betting logos on kids’ football kits, and curbs on top football clubs using their official social media accounts to promote gambling offers.
We have also invested £10 million on a nationwide education programme, delivered by YGAM and GamCare, which has so far reached over two million young people.
Britain is facing a growing online black market threat, putting customers at greater risk and threatening jobs and taxes in the UK.
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.