UK: BGC endorses Racing TV’s “Write to your MP” initiative

The UK’s Betting and Gaming Council has endorsed a new campaign from Racing TV called “Write to your MP.” The effort, which was applauded by BGC Chairman Brigid Simmonds OBE, enables “concerned horse racing fans to seek assurances from their MPs and DCMS Ministers,” says the trade group.

According to the BGC, as the country moves to introduce new gambling regulations, punters want the chance “to have their say” on what this will entail; and may want to ensure that any changes will not impinge on their enjoyment of the sport. Racing TV’s campaign prompts horse racing fans to write to their local MPs to raise concerns on the Review of the Gambling Act.

Potential measures championed for the review include affordability checks, which the BGC argues would “only serve to drive people to the unsafe unregulated black market.” A recent survey conducted among Racing TV members shows 92% of respondents stated that they would consider using a different bookmaker if no personal information was required.

The study further 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.

Brigid Simmonds OBE said: “The recent debate around the White Paper has shown us there is confusion when there should be clarity. No one benefits from this, not our members, nor their millions of customers. We have always called for a package of reforms that will deliver real change, but these need to be carefully targeted to protect the small minority who are vulnerable, not impact on the enjoyment of the vast majority who bet safely and responsibly.”

“BGC members are proud to provide financial support to the tune of £350 million to the horseracing industry each year. The White Paper should now be published without delay, to bring certainty for businesses and punters, so that investment can continue,” Simmonds added. 

The trade body further points out that around 22.5 million UK adults bet each month, and according to the independent regulator, problem gambling rates remain low at 0.3%. The Betting and Gaming Council is urging “anyone who has an interest in racing and in protecting their enjoyment of betting on the sport” to sign up for the campaign.

Racecourse Media Group (parent company of Racing TV) CEO Martin Stevenson said: “The widespread response to the Racing TV survey shows how much the ongoing Gambling Act Review, combined with their recent experiences, is affecting our members.”

“Our survey revealed that 15% of respondents bet, or know someone that bets, with an unregulated bookmaker, which is of real concern,” he noted. “With millions of customers betting on racing, the findings of this survey indicate that hundreds of thousands of punters are potentially using the black market.”

For Stevenson, a key priority for the White Paper is needing to listen to consumers and, according to Racing TV’s survey, they have shown widespread rejection of affordability checks. “They appear to be having the dysfunctional effect of pushing potentially vulnerable punters into the unregulated black market and therefore an unsafe environment,” he concluded.