BGC warns against new gambling taxes in UK

The UK government will announce its annual budget on Wednesday.
The UK government will announce its annual budget on Wednesday.

The Betting and Gaming Council is concerned that the government will turn to gambling to raise funds.

UK.- The UK industry lobby group the Betting and Gaming Council seems to know something. It’s again warning against new taxes on gambling, suggesting it believes the UK government may seriously be considering taxing the industry more in tomorrow’s budget announcement (March 15) or upcoming gambling white paper.

Announcing its support for the government’s “Enterprise, Education, Employment and Everywhere” economic plan, it warned against “measures which would threaten growth, jeopardise jobs or undermine the customer experience for millions of punters”.

The BGC highlighted a recent report by EY revealing that BGC members support 110,000 jobs, generate £4.2bn in tax and contribute £7.1bn to the economy in gross value added. It noted that they also help fund horseracing “to the tune of £350m” through sponsorship, media rights and the betting levy, provide £40m for the English Football League and its clubs and millions more for rugby league, darts and snooker.

The body noted that this year’s budget will be presented during the Cheltenham Festival – one of the biggest weeks in the regulated betting and gaming industry’s calendar. Around 274,000 will attend Cheltenham, generating an estimated £274m for the local economy, while an estimated £1bn will be staked across four days of racing.

The BGC said punters could enjoy an expected 20 hours of live coverage across the week, with around one million viewers expected per day, and a peak during the Gold Cup on Friday. But it warned that the contribution could be placed at risk by any new tax rises or reforms to betting laws in the long-delayed white paper.

It said that aside from the ongoing regulatory upheaval facing this sector, all businesses, BGC members including betting shops, bingo and casinos were trying to rebuild following a series of major economic blows. It mentioned a slower-than-expected recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, the economic impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, rising energy costs and inflation.

CEO Michael Dugher said: “The regulated industry already plays a huge role in the UK economy, and we are keen to go further and contribute even more. But in order to deliver on this ambition, we need a pro-business budget, no new tax rises and a balanced gambling white paper that protects the vulnerable while not spoiling the customer experience of the majority who bet perfectly safely.

“Our industry includes world-leading British tech, as well as businesses supporting high street retail, plus those in the hospitality, tourism and leisure sectors. Ministers should be protecting investment and jobs at this challenging time. We want to see big changes that will further strengthen safer gambling, but new taxes and draconian regulations will put businesses at risk.

“We need to see long overdue changes to help land-based casinos in particular with their recovery. And we need to stop intrusive, blanket low-level ‘affordability checks’, such as those called for by the anti-gambling lobby, which only serves to drive customers to the unsafe, unregulated black market online where there are none of the safer gambling protections that exist in the regulated industry and where not a penny is paid in tax to the Exchequer.”

Meanwhile, the BGC again warned that affordability checks would increase the risk of people heading to the black market, noting that 92 per cent of respondents to a recent survey said they would consider using a different bookmaker.

See also: Czech Republic expected to hike gambling tax

Support for economic growth

The BGC argued that regulated betting and gaming industry is perfectly placed to support Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s four priorities for growth: Enterprise, Education, Employment and Everywhere, as its members support jobs on high streets and in tech and tourism across the UK.

It said Britain’s regulated betting and gaming industry will generate 15,000 tech jobs in the next five years and is committed to creating 5,000 new apprenticeships by 2025. It said online members were “tech powerhouses” and “true global leaders”, investing outside the capital with centres in places like Stoke and Leeds.

Study shows BGC “Take Time To Think” slogan has no effect on betting

A study carried out by the University of Warwick has questioned the effectiveness of the Betting and Gaming Council’s (BGC) Take Time To Think slogan. The study found that the responsible gambling message, launched in October 2021, has no effect on betting behaviours.

The study was based on a randomised online experiment. Researchers created an online game and gave the 1,500 participants a £5 bonus. Participants did not have to gamble – they could keep the £5, but only 579 (25.4 per cent) chose not to gamble. The participants were divided into three groups, each group playing the game under different conditions.

See also: UK culture secretary Lucy Frazer speaks to gambling reformists

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