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UK – Industry bodies and associations respond to Government Review

By - 9 December 2020

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has launched the Gambling Act Review with the publication of a Call for Evidence into the Gambling Act 2005.

The Call for Evidence, which will run until 31 March 2021, will look at online restrictions, marketing and the powers of the Gambling Commission as part of a major and wide-ranging review of gambling laws.

Responding to the publication of the Call for Evidence, Gambling Commission CEO, Neil McArthur said: “We welcome the government’s Review of the Gambling Act which will also consider our powers and resources. Our job is to make gambling safer and the Review creates an opportunity to build on the progress we have made to protect players and the public – such as strengthened age and identity verification, strict new guidance for so-called VIP schemes and banning gambling with credit cards.

“As the statutory adviser to the Secretary of State we look forward to contributing our advice to help with the government’s Review and we will continue our close working relationship with DCMS as the Review proceeds. We’ve made it clear to gambling operators that we will continue to work at pace to take action to protect consumers while the Review of the Gambling Act is underway.”

William Hill CEO, Ulrik Bengtsson, welcomed the review: “William Hill welcomes the gambling review which the Government has launched today. Our industry is more committed than ever to keeping gambling as safe as possible and we have been getting on with raising standards.

“Whether it’s ensuring under-18s and vulnerable people are not exposed to gambling adverts or identifying at-risk players through technology, we are continually driving up standards to ensure gambling remains a safe and fun pursuit for millions of people in the UK.

We look forward to engaging with the Government throughout the review to ensure that any new regulations work alongside progress made by our industry and provide clarity and certainty for customers, operators and all those who work in the sector.

“It is important that the review is evidence-led, strikes the right balance between protecting the vulnerable and the continued enjoyment of the many tens of millions who happily place the occasional bet, as well as taking a critical look at the growing risks of the black market where there are no consumer protections.”

Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, commented: “As the standards body for the regulated industry, we strongly welcome the launch of the Government’s Review. We called for it to be wide-ranging and evidence-led, and it provides an important opportunity to drive further changes on safer gambling introduced by the industry in the past year.

“Problem gambling may be low at around 0.7 per cent and as the DCMS has said there is no evidence that it has increased in the last 20 years, but one problem gambler is one too many. So I hope Ministers will focus in with laser-like precision on problem gamblers and those at risk. The Government must ensure that any changes do not drive people to the unregulated black market online, where there aren’t any safeguards to protect vulnerable people.

“Our members do not allow betting by under-18s, so we welcome in particular confirmation of the Government’s decision to ban 16 and 17-year-olds from playing the National Lottery. It’s got to be one rule for all.

“The review must also take account of the huge economic contribution made by the betting and gaming industry, which employs over 100,000 people. This includes £8.7 billion a year in Gross Value Added and over £3.2 billion to HM Treasury in tax. In addition, horse racing receives over £350 million per year through the horse racing industry levy, media rights and sponsorships, while betting companies spend over £40m a year on the English Football League and its clubs.

“Other sports, including rugby league, snooker and darts also receive millions of pounds in sponsorship from our members, while casinos contribute over £120 million to the tourism economy each year.

“Millions of people enjoy an occasional flutter on sports, on bingo, on the Lottery, in casinos and online. I hope that everyone has their say in the Review – including millions of customers who enjoy betting safely, as well as the hardworking men and women employed in the industry.”

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