Gambling Industry Calls on New UK PM for Sensible Gambling Reforms
The UK gambling industry has called on the new UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, to implement “sensible, proportionate and carefully targeted” reforms as he enters the office.
Rishi Sunak took over as PM on Tuesday after being the only candidate left standing to take over from Liz Truss. After Truss’s resignation, the Conservative Party ran a leadership contest to decide the next Prime Minister. The candidates included Rishi Sunak, Boris Johnson, and Penny Mordaunt; however, after the latter two dropped out of the race, Sunak was the only remaining candidate, making him the next PM.
Michael Dugher, Chef Exe of the Betting and Gaming Council, a consortium of operators and trade body for the UK gambling industry, who are lobbying against new blanket gambling reforms, noted that Sunak’s constituency includes Catterick Racecourse, leading Dugher to believe that he has a strong understanding of the UK gambling sector.
Dugher welcomed the new PM, saying that as Catterick MP, Sunak has proved himself a strong supporter of British horse racing and knows well the relationship between the regulated industry and racing.
Dugher continued that he believed Sunak’s time as Chancellor of the Exchequer means that he has a sound understanding of the economic and tax impacts of the UK gambling industry. Including the fact that BGC members contribute £7.7bn to the UK economy yearly, including £4.5bn in tax, while maintaining nearly 120,000 UK jobs. Along with racing, the BGC also provides vital sports support to lower league football, rugby, snooker, and darts.
Sunak takes over at a tumultuous time for the UK gambling industry as the government is amidst a major overhaul of the current gambling regulations, which began in 2020. The Gambling Act Review started with an initial consultation, which ended in 2021. The following stage was creating and publishing a white paper, including the upcoming legal changes.
The white paper was due for publication in quarter two and has been delayed many times. It was reportedly only two weeks from publication when Truss resigned, but there were also rumours in Whitehall that she might scrap the document altogether. Since it’s been established that the review will continue with Sunak’s government taking over.
Dugher has continually called for proportionate regulation and has used the opportunity to repeat the call, asking for sensible reforms that avoid restricting players who gamble safely. He added;
“We also hope the new administration makes speedy progress on a sensible, proportionate and carefully targeted gambling white paper, one that helps to further drive up standards and protect the vulnerable while safeguarding jobs, investment and sport – and not spoiling the enjoyment of the overwhelming majority of punters who bet safely and responsibly….We stand by ready to help our new prime minister rebuild and grow our economy in every part of the UK.”
The overwhelming concern for the BGC is that overregulation would unfairly target the majority of players who do not experience gambling harms to protect the few that do while having a large effect on the industry.
Central to the BGC’s position is research conducted by PwC for the council, which shows that UK offshore gambling has doubled in the last two years, corresponding with increased UK regulation, including the ban of credit cards, feature buy, and speed of spin rules. This pattern can also be viewed in other EU countries with stricter regulations, like Norway and France. The report suggests that increased regulations drive offshore gaming, damaging the legal sector and potentially enabling more significant harm.