The Betting and Gaming Council has highlighted the importance of betting to sport in an enquiry on the 2005 Gambling Act overhaul.
For those unaware, the UK Government is currently reviewing the 2005 Gambling Act and is looking to make changes to tighten the rules regarding offline and online gambling. Amid the review, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has emphasised how much betting contributes to the sports sector.
As reported by FocusGN, the BGC told the UK’s Culture, media, and Sport Committee in its submission that sports such as rugby, snooker, football, horseracing, and others all heavily depend on funds from the betting industry, and further highlighted the betting industry’s importance amidst the COVID-19 pandemic which has limited other forms of revenue for the sports.
The BGC also warned the UK Government that heavily restrictive measures would push UK players to register and gamble at unlicensed operators, putting them at risk and in a spot where they would not receive support from UK regulatory bodies.
In its submission to the 2005 Gambling Act review, the organisation also highlighted that betting sponsorships provide English Football League clubs with around £40 million a year and provide snooker and darts around £10 million a year.
The BGC also noted how the industry has voluntarily agreed to pay additional fees on racing streaming and data throughout England’s lockdown to December 2 to help compensate for lost revenue.
In a statement on the importance of betting to the sports industry, BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher said: “We welcome the Government’s imminent gambling review, which will examine the financial relationship between sports such as football, rugby league, horseracing, snooker, and darts and betting operators.
“The industry’s importance to these popular national pastimes shows why it’s vital that the Government gets the balance right, and does not drive punters towards the illegal, online black market, who have no interest in supporting sport either at a grassroots or national level.”
He continued: “The financial impact of the pandemic has been keenly felt by a range of sports, and I’m delighted that the betting and gaming industry has been able to step in to help out. The sectors would not exist without the sponsorship, levies and media rights payments paid by the betting sector, and so too there would be no product to be on.”
“Some sports are living on a knife-edge because of the ongoing ban on spectators, so the funding provided by our members is even more important than usual,” Dugher said.
The BGC’s comments come after the organisation, and several casinos across England issued a joint plea to the UK Government offering to introduce additional COVID restrictions in a bid to allow the businesses to re-open under Tier three restrictions once England’s lockdown ends on December 2.
The comments on the 2005 Gambling Act review come just as BGC Chairman Brigid Simmonds published a new blog post praising the success of this year’s Safer Gambling Week during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In her post, Simmonds described 2020’s campaign as a “great success” despite the difficulties stemming from coronavirus which has left most betting shops and casinos across the UK temporarily shut and some permanently closed.
She said: “Whether it was football stadiums running safer gambling messages around the pitches during matches, the sponsor’s name removed on the football shirt and replaced by safer gambling, or Ascot Racecourse changing the name of one of their races to the Safer Gambling Week Novices’ Steeple Chase, the message has gone far and wide.”
Then, reflecting on 2019’s campaign in which casinos and betting shops took part by removing promotional posts and replacing them with safer gambling messages, Simmonds explained that although that wasn’t possible this year, the campaign’s main message was still shared across the nation.
“Safer Gambling Week has still been highlighting work that goes on all year to raise awareness of tools available to control gambling,” she said. “or to tackle problem gambling and making sure that those who need help are given the assistance they need.”
Later on in the blog post, Simmonds discusses what the BGC has so far accomplished since its funding in 2019. She said: “On the BGC’s very first day a year ago, we launched 22 safer gambling commitments, and we have been working tirelessly with our members ever since to ensure they are met. From encouraging deposit limits 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.”
She continued: “And while we still have lots more still to do, this week has shown how these measures are really making a difference. Over 30 million people in Britain enjoy a flutter every year, and the vast majority of them do so safely and enjoyably.
“But we are not complacent. While the rate of problem gambling has remained constant in recent years, one problem gambler is one too many. And that is why Safer Gambling Week is so important.”
Simmonds ended the blog post by highlighting the importance of safer gambling, particularly during the current COVID-19 pandemic, and touched on the variety of resources available to help users. She said: “It’s crucial to bring people’s attention to the information, advice and support that is available 24/7, 365 days of the year.
“There are some fantastic support networks and resources available, some created by people with lived experience, to help better understand the risks.”
She continued: “That is what matters as this week draws to a close. Are the measures in place now better than they were this time last year? And will they be even better 12 months from now? That’s why resting on our laurels is not good enough, and why Safer Gambling Week is such a vital initiative whose message needs to continue.”