BETTING AND GAMING COUNCIL GIVE VOICE TO PUNTERS AND INDUSTRY WORKERS BEFORE SELECT COMMITTEE
Betting and Gaming Council Chief Executive Michael Dugher urged MPs to remember the 22.5m punters who enjoy a regular bet during his evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.
He was joined by Wes Himes, the BGC’s Executive Director of Standards and Innovation, at Tuesday’s committee session into gambling regulation.
At the opening of the morning session Michael Dugher, told MPs: “I want to just begin by talking about a group of people whose voice has been occasionally lost in this whole white paper process.
“And that is the 22.5 million people who enjoy a bet on a regular basis. They're also people who work hard, pay their taxes, look after their families and it's what they choose to do with their money.”
Mr Dugher went on to praise the economic contributions made by BGC members, before “very, very strongly” welcoming the White Paper setting out the Government’s planned reforms, which was published in April.
The measures contained in the White Paper underline the BGC’s commitments to raise standards and protect the vulnerable whilst listening to punters and protecting the 110,000 jobs which regulated betting and gaming supports.
Those measures included enhanced spending checks for online gambling, an industry ombudsman, a new mandatory levy to fund research, education and treatment, stake limits for online slots and modernisation proposals for casinos.
The BGC team were also clear on the need to tackle the harm experienced by the 0.3 per cent of problem gamblers in the UK.
Mr Dugher, added: “Because that really is the thing that all of us have been trying to address.”
During over two hours of questions, the BGC also stressed there is “no evidence” supporting a link between sports advertising and problem gambling.
Wes Himes, added: “We work tirelessly to try to bring in more measures. We’ve developed 11 codes over the last three years, over 80 substantial measures which sit on top of regulation and legislation in order to create that safer gambling culture.”
Mr Himes also stressed problem gambling rates had fallen, saying: “They have nearly halved since 2017 to 0.3% today – one of the lowest problem gambling rates internationally.
“So even though there has been a rise in the enjoyment of the product, there has also been a reduction in the problem gambling rate during that same time.”
The BGC team also urged for modernisation plans for casinos contained in the White Paper to be sped up, with Mr Dugher stressing casinos need to, “get access to some of the liberalising and modernisation measures that might help to save some of those businesses and grow some businesses.”
BGC members are proud to back hard-pressed high streets, however Mr Dugher explained to MPs there had been 2,000 closures of bookmakers – which had seen around 10,000 jobs lost since 2019.
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.
The BGC is now working at pace with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the regulator the Gambling Commission on a series of consultation as a result of the White Paper.
The committee also heard evidence from John White, Chief Executive, Bacta and Miles Baron, Chief Executive, Bingo Association.
You can watch the whole evidence session here Parliamentlive.tv - Culture, Media and Sport Committee