BGC defends UK Safer Gambling Week

Safer Gambling Week is now in its fifth year.
Safer Gambling Week is now in its fifth year.

The industry initiative has been criticised by campaigners.

UK.- The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has hit back against criticism of the UK gaming industry-backed Safer Gambling Week. Campaigners had criticised the initiative, which is now in its fifth year.

Will Prochaska, strategy director of Gambling With Lives (GWL), criticised Safer Gambling Week in an article on Politics Home. He labelled it a “cringe campaign” designed to try to cover up the harm caused by gambling. He called on MPs to ignore the initiative and to consider it as an annual deception that aimed to deflect attention from the ills of gambling.

He criticised operators’ safer gambling messages as an attempt to pass the blame for gambling harm from operators to customers. He said this was a similar tactic to that used by the Sackler family in relation to the opioid epidemic.

Safer Gambling Week is promoted by the BGC, the amusement arcade association Bacta and Bingo Association. It promotes safer gambling tools and information along with staff training for operators.

In response, BGC chief executive Michael Dugher, also writing on Politics Home, defended Safer Gambling Week against what he called “anti-gambling prohibitionists”.

He said: “Even if you don’t like betting, how can anyone be against safer gambling? What’s wrong with encouraging people to set limits on the amount of time or money they spend on betting?

“Who could possibly be against making sure people are aware of all the professional help and support services that exist for those who may be struggling, or for families worried that a loved one may be experiencing problems?”

Dugher noteed that problem gambling rates have been falling, with Gambling Commission figures putting the rate at 0.2 per cent.

He added: “One minister once said to me that ‘the more people tell me that they aren’t anti-gambling, the more convinced I am that they are!’.

“As the government seeks to finalise its package of reforms, as part of a forthcoming white paper, I accept there are different views as to what changes people would like to see for the future. 

“But surely only the most ardent of anti-gambling prohibitionists are actually against safer gambling? Whatever your views, Safer Gambling Week is important and should be supported by everyone.”

However, the “package of reforms” mentioned by Dugher is still nowhere to be seen. The UK government has claimed that a gambling white paper, delayed from the start of the year, is still due to be published but with the continual disarray in the governing Conservative Party, there’s still no clear idea of when that might be.

Some had suggested that Liz Truss, who has resigned after barely over a month as Prime Minister, had planned to drop gambling reforms altogether. With the UK now lacking a Prime Minister again, it’s once more unclear what the fate of the reforms will be.

In this article:
BGC Safer Gambling Week