BGC: affordability checks threaten betting and gaming industry

A report conducted by EY for the Betting and Gaming Council alleges that compulsory affordability checks pose a threat to the regulated betting and gaming industry. 

The study has suggested that the enforcement of tougher affordability checks has contributed to reduced revenues, supporting recent polling that found 70 per cent of bettors would be unwilling to allow regulated operators to conduct said checks to prove they can afford to wager.

EY’s published research noted that the online GGY for the industry has decreased since mid-2021, stating the re-opening of land-based venues, affordability checks and the decline in household income as potential causes behind this downturn. 

Michael Dugher, CEO of the Betting and Gaming Council, commented: “The UK’s regulated betting and gaming sector is a genuine global leader. Some 22.5m adults enjoy a wager, on the lottery, on bingo, on any number of sports, online and in casinos.

“Our members pump billions into the economy, support the Treasury with more billions and support over one hundred thousand jobs. But this contribution is never guaranteed. This industry needs to thrive if it is to maintain its status as a global leader.”

Despite these external issues facing companies, BGC members’ total gross value added contribution to the UK economy was £7.1bn, with the industry supporting 110,000 jobs on high streets, hospitality and global tech powerhouses. 

“As ministers consider the regulatory framework for this industry, they should stop and think, and ensure the decisions they make support a sustainable future,” said Dugher.

“This is a sector that is ready to invest, on hard-pressed high streets through bookmakers, in tourism and hospitality through world-class casinos and online where our tech giant members are looking to increase the number of apprentices they hire.

“We urge the government to find an evidence-led, balanced white paper that protects the vulnerable, allows the vast majority who bet safely to continue to do so, and crucially allows business to thrive.”

According to the EY study, the hardships facing operators “could in turn lead to leakage to the black market, i.e. operators offering remote gambling products that do not hold a UK Gambling Commission licence for remote gambling.”

Dugher added: “This industry is serious about safer gambling, and it’s encouraging that the rates of problem gambling among UK adults remains low by international standards at 0.3 per cent.

“We want to see technology used to ensure checks on spending are carefully targeted towards the vulnerable, not the vast majority who show no signs of harm.

“But without government clarity on affordability checks, our members are concerned they are driving frustrated customers to the unsafe, unregulated black market.”

“These sites have none of the safer gambling tools employed by our members, do nothing to protect young people, don’t invest anything in the sports we love like horse racing, rugby, darts and football and crucially don’t contribute a penny in tax.”