Tuesday, 12 January 2021

BGC Says There’s Too Much ‘Fiction’ Surrounding Gambling Debate

BGC Gambling Warning

The Betting and Gaming Council’s (BGC) Chief Executive Michael Dugher has warned that there is “too much fiction” surrounding the ongoing gambling debate.

Last month, the UK Government launched its review into the Gambling Act 2005, and while the BGC and Dugher have welcomed the long-awaited review, Dugher has come forward to “set the record straight” as the gambling industry comes under attack by anti-gambling lobbyists.

Writing for Politcshome.com, Dugher reiterates his support for the review before referencing evidence confirming that the UK’s percentage of problem gamblers stands at around 0.5% of the adult population – a low figure when compared to international standards – and that the betting industry employs 100,000 people and pays around £3 billion in tax.

Dugher claims in his piece that the evidence shared does not “suit” the anti-gambling lobby who are seeking to generate “hysteria” over an “explosion in problem gambling” and have taken to sparking outrage regarding underage gambling with what Dugher describes as “irresponsible” campaigns.

He says: “At the heart of the Government’s review is the determination that the process should ensure ‘the protection of children and vulnerable people in a fair and open gambling economy which is also crime-free’. Exactly right.”

Continuing his piece to “get a few facts straight”, Dugher states that the review will focus on betting advertising in sports before pointing out that the Industry Code For Socially Responsible Advertising already includes a requirement banning betting operators’ logos from appearing on children’s merchandise.

Following this, Dugher reiterates the BGC’s commitment to preventing underage gambling and exposure to the industry, saying: “Far from trying to entice children to gamble, regulated members of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) have a zero-tolerance approach to betting by under-18s, which is why we welcomed the announcement that they will no longer be able to buy National Lottery products.”

Dugher then outlines what the Betting and Gaming Council have done to protect young people from exposure to gambling. This includes the introduction of the whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling advertisements during televised sports and updating the Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising to require all BGC members to ensure that all sponsored or paid-for social media advertisements are targeted to people over the age of 25.

He also confirms that the BGC is working directly with social media and search platforms to reduce under-18s’ exposure to gambling advertisements, saying: “These changes are clearly making a difference as the Advertising Standards Authority recently announced that, following its latest advertisement review, the number of betting ads appearing on inappropriate sites was down by 93%.”

Despite what the BGC has accomplished, Dugher stresses that the organisation is “determined to do more” and has plans on investing £10 million in the Young People’s Gambling Harm Prevention Programme which will be delivered to school pupils throughout the UK by teams at the YGAM and GamCare charities.

Warning Of The Illegal Online Gambling Black Market

In the same piece for Politcshome.com, Dugher warned of the dangers of the illegal online black market who do not comply with UK legislation and do not have “strict ID and age verification checks which are a requirement in the regulated sector”.

The illegal online market also does not follow any strict rules regarding advertising for minors. Despite the lack of regulation and safety, around 200,000 British gamblers visited illegal online gambling websites over a 12-month period between 2018 and 2019, which is why Dugher warns that the UK Government’s gambling review must not “inadvertently drive customers into the arms of these unscrupulous operators.”

Dugher concluded his piece by confirming that the Betting and Gaming Council will continue its “critical work” in tackling underage exposure to gambling and addressing the dangers of the illegal and unregulated online gambling market.

He said: “Ministers have said that they will seek to get the balance right in future changes – protecting the enjoyment of millions of people who enjoy a flutter – whether that’s on sports or on bingo or the Lottery – but at the same time what more can be done to protect the vulnerable. This is the right approach. So let’s have ‘evidence-led’ decisions that are based on facts, not the fiction that can too often swirl around this debate.”

The UK Government’s review of the Gambling Act 2005 launched in December 2020 and is being spearheaded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The review will reportedly look into limiting online gambling stakes, potentially banning sports sponsorships, implementing additional mandatory affordability checks, and granting the UK Gambling Commission with additional powers to help it further regulate the industry.

BGC Congratulates UK Government’s New Business Secretary

Michael Dugher’s piece for Politcshome.com comes as the organisation welcomes the appointment of Kwasi Kwarteng as the UK Government’s new Business Secretary, replacing Alok Sharma.

Kwarteng, who previously served as the Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, is now responsible for leading the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

In a statement shared on the BGC website, Dugher congratulated Kwarteng and praised his appointment, saying: “I would like to congratulate Kwasi on this richly-deserved promotion, and I look forward to working with him in his new role.

“The betting and gaming industry contributes £8.7 billion to the economy, pays around £3 billion a year in tax and employs 100,000 people, and we stand ready to help with the UK’s economic recovery once we are through the pandemic.”

In the same statement, Dugher also praised Alok Sharma’s work before wishing him luck as the President of the UN COP26 Climate Conference, adding: “Alok was very supportive when betting shops were re-opened safely along with the rest of the non-essential retail in June, and his help was greatly appreciated by the industry. I wish him the very best luck as president of COP26.”