BGC: Industry Vows to Back UK Economy, but Warns Against Anti-Growth Tax Rises and Regulations
The Betting and Gaming Council today vowed to back the economy by delivering on the Government’s economic plan of ‘Enterprise, Education, Employment and Everywhere’, but warned against measures which would threaten growth, jeopardise jobs, or undermine the customer experience for millions of punters.
The regulated betting and gaming industry already makes a huge economic contribution throughout the UK, with a recent report by EY revealing BGC members support 110,000 jobs, generate £4.2bn in tax and contribute £7.1bn to the economy in gross value added.
They also help fund horseracing to the tune of £350m through sponsorship, media rights and the betting levy, provide £40m for the English Football League and its clubs and millions more for rugby league, darts and snooker.
This year’s Budget (WEDS) comes during Cheltenham Festival – one of the biggest weeks in the regulated betting and gaming industry’s calendar – where millions of punters will responsibly enjoy a wager.
Around 274,000 will attend Cheltenham, generating an estimated £274m for the local economy, while an estimated £1bn will be staked across four days of racing.
Punters can enjoy an expected 20 hours of live coverage across the week, with around one million viewers expected per day, and a peak during the Gold Cup on Friday after 1.6 million tuned in last year.
However, that contribution, and the experiences of millions of punters like those at Cheltenham, could be placed at risk by any new tax rises or proposed reforms to betting laws expected to be set out in a White Paper in the coming weeks.
Aside from ongoing regulatory upheaval facing this sector, all businesses – including BGC members like betting shops, bingo and casinos – are trying to rebuild following a series of major economic blows.
Those include slower than expected recovery from the global pandemic, the economic impacts sparked by Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, growing energy costs, near double digit inflation and long overdue reform of business rates.
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.
“We need to see long overdue changes to help land based casinos in particular with their recovery. 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.”
A recent survey of RacingTV members showed that 15% of 3,500 respondents said that they bet, or they know someone that bets, with an unregulated online bookmaker.
In addition, nearly 80% of the respondents said they would not like to see mandatory limits imposed by bookmakers on how much punters can spend.
These affordability checks increase the risk of people heading to the black market, with 92% of respondents stating that they would consider using a different bookmaker if no personal information was required.
The regulated betting and gaming industry is perfectly placed to support Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s four priorities for growth, Enterprise, Education, Employment and Everywhere, as our members support jobs on hard-pressed high streets, in tech and tourism, across the entire UK.
Britain’s regulated betting and gaming industry will generate 15,000 tech jobs in the next five years and committed to creating 5,000 new apprenticeships by 2025 as part of an ambitious growth agenda benefitting the whole UK.
Meanwhile our online members are tech powerhouses, true global leaders, which invest outside the capital with centres in places like Stoke and Leeds.
Around 22.5m adults enjoy a bet each month – whether it’s buying a lottery ticket, having a game of bingo, visiting a casino, playing online or having a wager on football, horseracing and other sports. The latest statistics from the Gambling Commission showed the rate of problem gambling in the year to December 2022 was 0.2 per cent – down from 0.3 per cent the year previous, remaining low by international standards.
The BGC strongly support the Gambling Review as a further opportunity to raise standards and promote safer gambling, but any changes introduced by the Government must not drive customers towards the growing unsafe, unregulated black market online.
A recent study found the number of customers using unlicensed betting websites has more than doubled, from 210,000 in 2019 to 460,000 in 2020 and the money staked is in the billions.