BGC welcomes publication of UK Gambling White Paper: “A once-in-a-generation moment for change”

The UK’s Betting and Gaming Council has welcomed the publication of the Gambling White Paper, which revamps gaming regulations to better adapt them to the digital age. The long-awaited review tightens rules on online gambling, including a 1% levy on industry revenue, affordability checks and slot machine stake limits.

Responding to the publication of the White Paper, Michael Dugher, CEO of the Betting and Gaming Council, said: “On behalf of our many members, the 110,000 people whose jobs rely on the regulated betting and gaming industry, and the 22.5 million people who enjoy a bet each month, we welcome the much-delayed publication of the Gambling White Paper.”

While the BGC embraces the update, Dugher noted the body needs time “to consider the full detail and impacts” of the proposals. However, the CEO highlighted the BGC has already been working closely with the government for some time now, in order to ensure a package of “balanced, proportionate and effective reforms.”

“Our members generate £7.1 billion for the economy and raise £4.2 billion in tax every year, and the measures announced today should protect jobs and sustain that vital contribution, while also building on our own work to drive world-leading standards in safer gambling,” he said.

BGC members will now work with Government and the Gambling Commission to deliver targeted and genuinely ‘frictionless’ enhanced spending checks to further protect the vulnerable, a new Ombudsman to improve consumer redress, and overdue plans to modernize the regulation of UK casinos – all issues we at the BGC have championed,” Dugher added.

While the White Paper marks a significant step forward in the UK government’s efforts to update gambling regulation, it is worth noting the process is far from finished. Nearly all of the measures will go out for further consultation, implying more delays to a review that began in late 2020 with the aim to update the 2005 Gambling Act passed by the Blair government.

The BGC said it welcomed the consultation on new stake limits for online slots, and in particular the steps taken to protect young people. Dugher also added the body celebrated the decision to reject proposals from “anti-gambling prohibitionists” for “blanket, low level and intrusive affordability checks,” as well as their calls for bans on advertising, sports sponsorship and consumer promotions.

According to the BGC, such measures would harm sports like horseracing and football, threaten jobs and drive customers to the unregulated gambling black market. “These proposed measures will mean significant change but hopefully much-needed regulatory stability to ensure our members can focus entirely on delivering for customers,” said Dugher of the final regulations.

As the government prepares to consult on the wide-ranging package of reforms, Dugher said the BGC’s focus will be on “delivering these changes as quickly as possible,” while concurrently working on what the executive called “the right balance between protecting the vulnerable and young people” whilst not “unduly impacting the enjoyment of the overwhelming majority of people who bet perfectly safe.”

“This White Paper is a once-in-a-generation moment for change and its publication must draw a line under the lengthy and often polarised debates on gambling,” Dugher stated. “Contrary to misconceptions, the numbers of people betting are stable and not increasing, problem gambling rates are stable and low, and our members are a genuine British business success story, ploughing billions into the economy.”

The focus should now be on continuing to drive higher standards, whilst investing in jobs and businesses in the UK’s world-leading regulated industry,” he concluded.

The main proposals brought forward by the UK government include:

  • A 1% mandatory levy on industry revenues.
  • Tougher affordability checks to prevent huge losses.
  • Online slot machine stakes capped at between £2 and £15.
  • Curbing “free spin” and “bonus” offers.
  • Measures to slow down online casino games.
  • More resources for the Gambling Commission.
  • Plans for a gambling ombudsman.

See the full UK gambling White Paper here.