Betting and Gaming Council Warns Against ‘Naïve Changes’ to UK Gambling Law

Posted on: March 21, 2022, 09:58h. 

Last updated on: March 21, 2022, 12:30h.

The Betting and Gaming Council is receptive to updated gambling laws in the UK, as the country closes in on its reform. However, the industry group warns that even “well-meaning” changes can have a negative impact.

Michael Dugher
Michael Dugher of the Betting and Gaming Council, in an undated photo. The chief executive highlights that an overhanded approach to gambling reform could hurt the industry. (Image: The Sun)

The BGC issued a statement today in which it indicates that the group supports initiatives that will help the UK recover from the impact of COVID-19. The group is capable of making investments, supplying jobs, and providing tax revenues. However, it may have to truncate its involvement if the government establishes “well-meaning but naïve changes” when it completes its gambling law review.

Our members are ready, willing and able to assist in the Chancellor’s post-covid economic recovery plan… But it is vital the industry’s contribution to sports, local communities, jobs and tax revenues, is not put at risk in the Gambling White paper and with well-meaning but naive changes to regulation,” states BGC CEO Michael Dugher.

The UK has been preparing to update its gambling laws for several years. The reform could have come last year. But additional work and other priorities slowed the process down.

Later, with the announcement of a new National Lottery operator pending, additional delays arrived. Now that the UK gave Allwyn Entertainment the lottery, the government is soon going to release its gambling reform. The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) supports the notion but wants to make sure government officials are thinking clearly.

The UK gambling review could be one of the most decisive changes for the industry. There has been plenty of chatter about the introduction of strict regulations. The BGC, which represents gaming operators in the country, wants to help make sure that the country doesn’t go too far.

BGC Contributes Considerably to UK Economy

In its statement, the BGC highlighted some of the ways that the group supports the UK economy. In 2019, its members provided 119,000 jobs and generated £4.5 billion (US$5.93 billion) in tax revenue. The BGC also supports the UK’s Plan for Jobs program, creating 5,000 apprenticeships.

In addition, operators are joining the government’s Kick Start program, which offers job opportunities for individuals from 16 to 24 years old who receive public assistance. They have also created their own internal initiatives to create graduate recruitment opportunities.

Entain’s innovation hub, Ennovate, is another example of how the gaming industry supports the UK economy. The gaming operator created the program to spawn innovation, pledging £100 million (US$131.9 million) in contributions.

Flutter Entertainment and bet365 are also significant supports of the economy. They continue to bring new jobs and enterprises to the UK, some of which could suffer as a result of overly-stringent gambling laws.

Black Market Growth a Concern

Another real threat that the government and the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) need to keep in mind is the black market. The BGC highlights in its announcement that stricter regulations often result in a spike in black-market activity, like that seen in Norway. The state’s monopolistic policies led to the black market gaining strength and now controlling over 66% of all staked money.

The growth of the unsafe, unregulated black market in online gambling is part of a global trend and it’s foolish to think that there’s an enforcement solution to this. The DCMS simply throwing more money and a few extra powers at the Gambling Commission won’t fix this for the Government,” added Dugher.

The threat of increased black-market operations in the UK is real and is already present. The BGC points to a study by PwC that showed that there are now over 460,000 gamblers using unregulated sites. This group is also staking “billions of pounds” through them.

The BGC stands behind the government’s desire to stir economic recovery. It is willing to do what it can, and as much as it can, but an overzealous approach could hinder its ability. Such an approach would inarguably lead to a smaller regulated industry. This would result in the exact opposite of what officials want to achieve.