The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has re-affirmed its commitment to its 10-pledge COVID action plan.
The organisation unveiled the pledges back in March when the United Kingdom was sent into lockdown due to COVID-19. BGC’s action plan was created to protect gambling staff and customers and to set out the standards expected of all BGC members.
Now, the standards body has re-affirmed its commitment to the pledges and action plan as England is sent into a four-month lockdown, as parts of Scotland are placed under tight restrictions, and Wales undergoes its firebreak lockdown.
The BGC has reiterated its commitment to the pledges following concern that the closure of brick-and-mortar betting shops and casino venues could lead to a spark increase in online gambling and the development of gambling-related harm.
As part of the BGC’s commitment, its members have signed up to the pledges once again to keep all staff and customers safe through to December 2nd, when England’s lockdown will supposedly be lifted. According to the gambling authority, the 10 pledges include:
Speaking about the organisation’s pledge, BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher said: “Our members did not hesitate to sign up to our 10-pledge action plan in March and I am delighted that they have done so again as we, regrettably, go back into some form of lockdown, admittedly with far fewer restrictions this time.
“Nothing is more important than the safety and welfare of our staff and customers, and these pledges make very clear the standards expected of our members in the coming weeks. This is further evidence of our commitment, ahead of the Government’s Review, to driving up standards across our industry, as well as our members’ strong support to supporting the national effect to defeat COVID-19.”
The above news comes as the Betting and Gaming Council becomes one year old after being founded on November 6, 2019. In a post celebrating the organisation’s birthday, Chief Executive Michael Dugher has looked back on what the BGC has achieved in the last 12 months and reiterated the BGC’scommitment to driving up standards within the gambling industry.
He said: “From encouraging deposit limits and boosting spending on research, education and treatment services, to reducing the number of betting ads seen by children and introducing tough new rules on VIP schemes, the BGC has been determined to drive change. And we have lots more still to do.”
Discussing how the BGC quickly set out its 10-pledge action plan to protect staff and customers amid the UK’s first lockdown and how all gambling venues were forced to close, Dugher said: “Our importance as the resulted industry’s voice was really highlighted by the pandemic, when we quickly swung into action as the country locked down in March.
“Our betting shop and casino members, along with non-essential premises across the country, were forced to close, and we successfully lobbied [the] Government to ensure they qualified for vital business rate relief at a time when they were unable to generate any revenue.”
Further on in Dugher’s post, the Chief Executive recalled how BGC members managed to raise almost £3 million for NHS Charities Together by donating all of their profits from the Virtual Grand National, and Dugher praised all gambling companies who donated food to homeless shelters and key workers.
“It is obviously disappointing that, as we enter a second national lockdown in England, they [Gambling venues] are having to close again, despite their excellent anti-Covid measures and the absence of any evidence that they contribute to the spread of the virus. We are now working hard to ensure they can open again – and start generating vital tax revenues for the Treasury – as soon as possible.”
In addition to aiding the gambling industry throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the BGC has also worked extensively to improve the regulation and standards of gambling. In May this year, BGC members pledged £10 million for a national gambling education programme targeted at 11-19-year-olds.
The organisation also helped introduce a whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling ads during televised sports events to limit children’s exposure to gambling, and the Betting and Gaming Council also helped introduce a new code of conduct for the design and play of video slots.
“As we mark our first birthday, we know the Government is preparing to launch its Gambling Review, beginning with a ‘call for evidence’, something which will shape our industry for years to come. We hope that this will be an evidence-led review and are very much looking forward to playing our part in the process.
“Our industry employs around 100,000 people and, in normal times, contributes more than £3 billion a year to the Exchequer. In addition, we provide £250 million for horseracing, as well as between £120 million and £200 million in tourism spend. That’s why we also hope that the Government’s Review will avoid unintended consequences like driving customers to gamble on the offshore, illegal black market, where there is no such thing as safer gambling.”
He ended the post by writing: “So as we become one year old, we will continue to ensure that our number one priority to raise standards continues in the important year ahead.”