BGC’s CEO identifies player protection critical in Gambling Act revision

BGC’s CEO identifies player protection critical in Gambling Act revision

As the betting and gaming sector awaits the outcome of a review of the 2005 Gambling Act later this year, it is ‘critical’ that legislators take an evidence-based approach to reach a fair conclusion. 

Player Protection Becomes Necessity 

This is the position of Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, who highlighted the need of safeguarding public health concerns “but still maintaining people’s personal freedoms, jobs, and companies” in a comment piece for The Telegraph.

“Nearly half of the population – around 30 million individuals – gamble on the National Lottery, bingo, in a betting shop or casino, and increasingly online,” he explained. “When I mention that amount to my former legislative colleagues, the majority are taken aback by its magnitude.

“This presents an intriguing conundrum for ministers tasked with enacting the most significant overhaul of our gaming legislation in years. It is critical that they follow through on their pledge that future policy changes will be ‘evidence-based.’

“However, it is critical that we find the proper balance between safeguarding the vulnerable and not jeopardizing the enjoyment of the vast majority of people who gamble responsibly,” the BGC executive noted.

In addition, the former Labour MP and shadow cabinet member stated that’significant strides’ had been achieved in recent years in terms of player protection, particularly with reference to internet gambling. As Dugher notes, the principal kinds of betting that 11 to 16-year-olds engage in include private wagers between friends, scratchcards, fruit machines, and card games — all of which fall outside the BGC’s jurisdiction.

While a UK Gaming Commission analysis indicated that youth gambling has decreased from 23% in 2011 to 11% in 2019, Dugher emphasized that this ratio is “still much too high.”

“I expect that child protection will be a top priority for ministers during this review,” Dugher said. “We need to build on the industry-funded work that has been done to educate children about the dangers of gambling.

“There have always been anti-gambling forces – prohibitionists seeking to outlaw certain activities. They equate gambling to narcotics or nicotine, which are innately and universally dangerous, rather than to alcohol, which the vast majority of people do not have a problem with but where we must intervene to assist the minority that do.

“That is why they are seeking to prohibit advertising and sponsorship, despite the fact that there is no proof that they contribute to compulsive gambling. Ministers should be concerned about the impact on rugby league, darts, snooker, and lower league football. For example, it would very certainly mean the end of horse racing on terrestrial television.”

He proceeded by stating that anti-gambling advocates “do not want to see safer gambling — they want to see less gambling,” emphasizing that while stricter regulation may result in a smaller regulated business, it will not result in less gambling. If customers are prevented from betting with registered operators, they will just go to the numerous unlicensed, unregulated, and hazardous gambling websites on the black market.”

In addition, a PwC research revealed that the number of people utilizing unregistered sites had nearly doubled to 460,000. Money is now being staked in the billions of pounds on the online illicit market. The research cites nations like as France, Norway, Italy, and Spain – which impose stricter limitations on licensed operators – as examples of countries with a much larger black market participation than the UK.

The lure of Blackmarket Gambling

 According to Dugher, 85 percent of punters feel that if limits are enforced, consumers will migrate to the unregulated black market, while 95 percent of respondents would object to bookmakers having access to their bank accounts or being required to hand over payslips as proof of cash.

“It’s worth noting that members of the Betting and Gaming Council support 119,000 jobs on our high streets, in hospitality, and in world-leading British technology, as well as produce £4.5 billion in annual tax revenue.” A more tightly regulated industry implies fewer jobs and less money for a Chancellor desperate for every penny.

“How the government balances protecting jobs and personal freedoms, preventing gamblers from venturing into the dangerous black market, and ensuring additional protections for the vulnerable and those at risk, all while not interfering with the enjoyment of millions of responsible gamblers, is a balancing act.”

About Lou De Aguila

Lou Aguila is a news and feature writer for Golden Casino News. For over a decade, Lou has published news and featured articles for some of the most reputable sports betting and online casino sites in the world, including BetNow.UK, VegasOdds, and BWin. Apart from being a hardcore live casino punter, he also covers sports stories in North American leagues from time to time.