BGC urges DCMS to protect jobs ahead of white paper consultations 

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Betting and Gaming Council Chief Executive Michael Dugher has provided evidence to the DCMS Select Committee regarding the first consultations of the gambling review’s white paper.

Dugher was joined by the BGC’s Executive Director of Standards and Innovation Wes Himes at the committee session on Tuesday.

During the hearing, the BGC’s executive team stood by measures contained in April’s white paper, including raising standards, protecting the vulnerable, preserving jobs and implementing the modernisation of UK gambling.

Dugher reiterated that the trading body supports the white paper’s recommendations to adopt spending checks for online gambling, a mandatory levy to fund research, education and treatment, stake limits for online slots and an industry ombudsman.

Throughout his speech to the committee, the CEO emphasised that those suffering from gambling harm must receive the support they need and the 22.5m people that enjoy gambling must be recognised. 

However, he also stated that the DCMS and the UK Gambling Commission must accept and account for the gambling industry’s economic and labour contribution, as a high-taxed sector contributing over 100,000 jobs in retail, technology and related services. 

Dugher explained: “BGC members are proud to back hard-pressed high streets. However, there had been 2,000 closures of bookmakers, which have 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.”

Dugher added that the 0.3 per cent of people suffering from gambling harm in the UK must be protected “because that really is the thing that all of us have been trying to address” – in which BGC members have implemented tougher approach to monitoring customers and maintaining compliance commands. 

Himes added that the trading body had “developed 11 codes over the last three years, along with over 80 substantial measures which sit on top of regulation and legislation in order to create a safer gambling culture.”

The Executive Director also noted that safer gambling and player protection progress has been made as those suffering from gambling harm “have nearly halved since 2017 to 0.3 per cent today – one of the lowest problem gambling rates internationally.”

The BGC also stressed there is “no evidence” supporting a link between sports advertising and gambling harm.

The trading body stated that it welcomes casino modernisation plans contained in the white paper to be sped up, as incumbents need “to get access to some of the liberalising and modernisation measures that might help to save some of those businesses and grow others.”

The BGC will continue to offer its advice to DCMS and the UKGC on upcoming reforms in which it supports the implementation of evidence-led policies to improve industry standards. 

The Select Committee has heard wider industry evidence provided by Bacta Chief Executive John White and Bingo Association Chief Executive Miles Baron.

The full DCMS Select Committee meeting can be watched here.