The Betting and Gaming Council has called for the delivery of a “pro-business budget” that would allow the industry to “contribute even more” to the UK economy. 

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, will deliver the budget tomorrow (Wednesday 15 March), which comes during one of the biggest weeks in the region’s sporting calendar as fans flock to Cheltenham Festival.

Ahead of this, the BGC has vowed to fulfil the government’s economic plan of ‘Enterprise, Education, Employment and Everywhere’, but has issued further warning against measures that the body said would threaten growth, jeopardise jobs, or undermine the customer experience.

Michael Dugher, CEO of the Betting and Gaming Council, said: “The regulated industry already plays a huge role in the UK economy, and we are keen to go further and contribute even more. 

“But in order to deliver on this ambition, we need a pro-business budget, no new tax rises and a balanced gambling white paper that protects the vulnerable while not spoiling the customer experience of the majority who bet perfectly safely.

“Our industry includes world-leading British tech, as well as businesses supporting high street retail, plus those in the hospitality, tourism and leisure sectors. 

“Ministers should be protecting investment and jobs at this challenging time. We want to see big changes that will further strengthen safer gambling, but new taxes and draconian regulations will put businesses at risk.”

The Cheltenham Festival will see around 274,000 will attend, generating an estimated £274m for the local economy, with it anticipated that around £1bn will be staked across four days of racing. 

However, the BGC has further warned that these experiences “could be placed at risk by any new tax rises or proposed reforms to betting laws” that are expected to be set out in a white paper in the coming weeks.

This, it added, follows a wave of “major economic blows” that include a slower than expected recovery from the global pandemic, economic impacts sparked by Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, growing energy costs, inflation and overdue reform of business rates.

“We need to see long overdue changes to help land based casinos in particular with their recovery,” Dugher continued. 

“And we need to stop intrusive, blanket low level ‘affordability checks’, such as those called for by the anti-gambling lobby, which only serve to drive customers to the unsafe, unregulated black market online where there are none of the safer gambling protections that exist in the regulated industry and where not a penny is paid in tax to the Exchequer.”