BGC Advocates for Government Commitment on Financial Risk Checks

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), a prominent standards body in the igaming industry, has called on the government to fulfill its commitments regarding frictionless financial risk checks. This appeal comes in anticipation of a Parliamentary debate scheduled for February 26th, following a petition related to the proposed measures in the Gambling Act White Paper, which garnered over 100,000 signatures.

The BGC has been a vocal advocate for implementing frictionless, enhanced spending checks online. These checks are designed to identify and intervene swiftly with individuals at risk or exhibiting signs of harmful gambling behavior. However, the BGC emphasizes the importance of ensuring that these checks do not disrupt the experience of the majority who engage in betting safely and responsibly. The goal is to allow these individuals to continue their hobby without undue interference.

Prior to the publication of the White Paper in April of the previous year, the BGC had repeatedly expressed concerns about the potential risks of blanket, intrusive affordability checks. These risks include the possibility of driving bettors towards unregulated and unsafe online gambling platforms and negatively impacting industries like horse racing through significant financial losses.

The BGC, alongside its members, has engaged closely with the Gambling Commission in a consultation process regarding financial risk checks, which concluded in October of the previous year. The findings of this consultation are still pending.

In 2022, bookmakers made a record contribution to horseracing, approximately £384 million, through levy, media rights, and sponsorship deals. The regulated betting and gaming industry at large plays a significant role in the economy, contributing £7.1 billion, generating £4.2 billion in taxes, and supporting 110,000 jobs.

In Great Britain, approximately 22.5 million adults engage in betting each month. According to the most recent Health Survey for England, only 0.4 percent of the adult population is classified as problem gamblers. This statistic underscores the BGC’s stance that the majority of bettors gamble responsibly and should not be subjected to intrusive measures.

Michael Dugher, Betting and Gaming Council CEO, said: “Ministers promised Parliament that checks would be frictionless. They now need to honour that commitment and will the means.

“At the BGC we supported enhanced checks for online gambling, but have been clear throughout that checks should be carefully targeted on those showing signs of problem gambling, or those who are at risk of harm, so operators can use technology to take swift action. They must also remain frictionless for the vast majority, as punters have repeatedly made clear they will not submit to intrusive checks.

“The overwhelming majority bet perfectly safely and responsibly, and it is crucial no check is introduced which risks driving these punters to the unsafe, unregulated black market online. These sites have none of the standards or protections offered by BGC members and they make no contribution either to the Exchequer or sports like horse racing.

We continue to work closely with the Gambling Commission and believe there should be a proper pilot before any permanent changes are introduced.

“The Jockey Club are to be congratulated for helping to secure this important parliamentary debate. Nevin Truesdale and his team have injected a much-needed dose of common sense. Too often, the debate around gambling has been dominated by a handful of out-of-touch anti-gambling prohibitionists whose enthusiasm for draconian changes would wreck great British sports like racing.”

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