BGC: Two Thirds of Punters Believe State Spending Limits on Betting Would Spark a Rise in Gambling Bad Market

Compulsory spending limits on betting only risks driving more people to the unsafe, unregulated gambling bad market, say 67 per cent of punters.

A new YouGov survey for the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) industry body revealed the concerns of regular bettors as the government considers a review of Britain’s 2005 Gambling Act.

As well as 67 per cent saying compulsory limits risked pushing punters to the growing gambling black market, 64 per cent of the public fear the increased use of illegal sites would trigger a rise in problem gambling rates.

According to the BGC poll, nearly 70 per cent of people who place a bet said they would not be willing to allow regulated betting and gaming firms carry out compulsory affordability checks to prove they can afford to wager.

Such a move has been mooted by anti-gambling campaigners, who claim it would help tackle problem gambling.

The number of people gambling on unsafe bad market sites in the UK has doubled from 220,000 to 460,000 in recent years — and the amount staked is measured in billions of pounds.

Most significantly, from the perspective of the oft-criticised gaming and iGaming industry, latest figures from the UK’s regulatory Gambling Commission indicate that the rate of problem gambling among adults in the nation remains low by international standards at 0.3 per cent, down from 0.4 over the previous year.

BGC CEO Michael Dugher said the YouGov polling was “important for ministers to consider” as they prepare to publish the long-delayed Gambling White Paper in the coming weeks.

He urged the UK government to adopt a “carefully targeted approach” to ensure “the right balance” between protecting the vulnerable — whilst not driving the overwhelming majority of bettors, who play safely and responsibly, towards the unsafe unregulated online bad market.

“We strongly support the Gambling Review as a further opportunity to raise standards and promote safer gambling,” said Dugher.

“Ministers have rightly always said it will be an evidence-led process. These poll findings are an important reminder of the risks of getting this wrong by introducing arbitrary blanket spending checks on anyone who likes a flutter.

“Any changes introduced by the government must be carefully targeted so that we protect the vulnerable and intervene on those showing signs of harm, whilst not driving the vast majority of millions of punters who bet safely towards the growing unsafe black market online, where there are none of the safer gambling protections used by BGC members.”

It should be noted that there are thousands of illegal gambling websites that don’t adhere to the strict standards in the licensed and regulated sector.

Their breaches include: targeting problem gamblers, not carrying out strict ID and age verification checks or offering the range of safer gambling tools provided by BGC members, like deposit limits and cooling off periods.

Regulated operators, for example, consistently intervene when customers signal signs of problem gambling or when it’s perceived that gamblers may be out of their depth and at risk.

The BGC re-stated that it is in favour of further enhanced spending checks but that it believes the focus should be on problem gamblers or those at risk rather than everyone who bets.

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