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Standards body the Betting and Gaming Council welcomed leading figures from politics, industry and the regulator to its AGM today (THURS) at a crucial time for the sector.

The summit at the Institution of Civil Engineers in central London was hosted by renowned broadcaster John Pienaar, and heard from Gambling Minister Stuart Andrew, Shadow Gambling Minister Stephanie Peacock and Gambling Commission CEO Andrew Rhodes.

This was the first AGM since the publication last April of the Gambling White Paper, a once in a generation review of gambling regulations impacting an industry which supports 110,000 jobs, generates £7.1bn for the economy and raises £4.2bn in tax.

Members also heard from CEO Michael Dugher and outgoing Chairman Brigid Simmonds OBE, who steps down from the role she has held since the BGC was established over four years ago.

BGC CEO Michael Dugher, said: “Our mission, on behalf of millions of customers and tens of thousands of employees, is to stand up for our industry.

“Not merely to accept change or simply manage change. But to shape it, to influence it, to deliver it. This is a world-leading industry. We should be proud of it. And we will continue to fight for it.”

Addressing BGC members, he added: “Our success is your success. The challenges we face - and there are many - we face them together. We have brought the industry together and together we have achieved great things.”

Gambling Minister Stuart Andrew MP, praised BGC members’ contributions, saying: “I’d like to again, recognise this contribution, not just in revenue terms, but also the social and entertainment benefits your businesses bring to the millions of customers who enjoy gambling and suffer no harm at all.”

On the issue of financial risk checks, which have dominated the public debate, he added: “I would like to reiterate that both government and the gambling commission are listening because we genuinely want to get this right.

“We are clear that financial risk checks should not over-regulate the gambling sector, should not unduly disrupt the millions of people who gamble without suffering harm and should not cause unnecessary damage to industry.”

Gambling Commission CEO Andrew Rhodes, added: “The last few years have not been an easy one and they have not provided a straightforward backdrop against which we can build relationships.

“We’ve had a pandemic and the very long gestation period of the gambling act review and the White Paper that followed.

“As we try to work together, there is always an inherent tension between the regulator and the industry it regulates as well as with a whole swathe of other interested parties who may have very strong views for what the regulator ought to do or not to do.

“That does not mean that that relationship has to be adversarial. It can be one of collaboration, cooperation and mutual interest.”

And Shadow Gambling Minister Stephanie Peacock MP, said: “Labour recognises that almost half of adults participate in some form of gambling, with the majority doing so safely and in moderation.

“From bingo to the races, many forms of gambling are rightly considered part of our British cultural tradition.

“Further to this, I know the success of the sector is vital for the economy more broadly, whether that’s betting shops, casinos, online betting and gaming or the companies that develop games.

“BGC members support over 110,000 jobs, generate billions in both GVA and taxes, and contribute to the success of many of our beloved sports through sponsorship and media rights deals.”

The theme for this year’s AGM was Delivering Change following the publication of the White Paper, which launched a wide range of consultations across the breadth of the industry.

It contained a number of proposals the BGC campaigned for, including frictionless enhanced spending checks online, a mandatory levy to fund Research, Prevention and Treatment to tackle problem gambling and gambling related harm, and an ombudsman to improve consumer redress.

Casinos, which are a vital pillar of the leisure and tourism sector, also benefitted from modest but mission critical reforms to regulations allowing them to thrive.

The BGC represents over 90 per cent of the regulated betting and gaming sector in the UK, including bookmakers on hard-pressed high streets, the land-based casino sector and tech powerhouses in online betting and gaming.

Each month in Great Britain around 22.5m adults have a bet and the most recent Health Survey for England estimated that 0.4 per cent of the adult population are problem gamblers.

BGC CEO also took part in an interview with Tim Poole from Gambling Insider.

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