Nebraska’s Casino Bill Goes Forward but Faces Several Challenges

BGC Tells Gambling Act Reviewers to Watch Out for Unintentional Side Effects

The Betting and Gaming Council continues to lead the offensive against regulatory changes in the United Kingdom that may have unintended negative consequences for businesses, consumers, and the treasury. BGC chief executive Michael Dugher issued a statement on how re-regulating the industry in a time of a global pandemic may compound the already existing issues brought on by the COVID-19 shutdowns.

Don’t Stifle Innovation, Growth or Sustainability

One concern Dugher has openly expressed is whether the government would end up passing “naïve changes” that could bite into the BGC’s and stakeholders’ ability to drive investments, provide jobs, and even contribute enough tax revenue to make a real dent in the tax collection process. Dugher reiterated his stance that the organization was fully prepared to assist the government in creating a meaningful framework:

“Our members are ready, willing, and able to assist in the Chancellor’s post-covid economic recovery plan. But it is vital the industry’s contribution to sports, local communities, jobs, and tax revenues, is not put at risk in the Gambling White paper and with well-meaning but naive changes to regulation.”

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher

The upcoming Gambling Act Review whose draft is expected in May could have large implications for the industry as it would seek to touch on several sensitive topics, including the incidence of problem gambling, the involvement of gambling companies in responsible gambling campaigns, the way advertisement is regulated, size of individual bets and more.

The BGC has repeatedly pointed out that its members are some of the biggest taxpayers to the state’s coffers. In 2019 alone, the trade organization’s members ran 119,000 jobs and contributed a massive £4.5 billion ($6 billion) in tax revenue to the treasury. There have been numerous opportunities for people looking to kickstart their careers with as many as 5,000 apprenticeships in that year.

Difficult Issues Will Come Up as Black-market Threat Lingers

Essentially, the BGC is appealing for a sensible approach to the gambling review and one that does not put traditional gambling companies who are licensed and contribute to the treasury at a disadvantage compared to offshore and illegal gambling markets. The United Kingdom is still targeted by international operators who are often lacking when it comes in terms of consumer protection. Dugher further talked about the exponential growth of the illegal gambling market, noting:

“The growth of the unsafe, unregulated black market in online gambling is part of a global trend and it’s foolish to think that there’s an enforcement solution to this. The DCMS simply throwing more money and a few extra powers at the Gambling Commission won’t fix this for the Government.”

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher

The exact numbers of consumers who turn to illegal gambling are not clear. According to one study by PwC, there are as many as 460,000 people who now use illegal gambling sites to play online. This number may be an underestimate. Making the onboarding on legal gambling sites harder, Dugher cautions could push more people into the unregulated black market.

Many issues will require extensive debate in matters such as VIP customers which are the biggest contributors to gambling companies’ bottom lines.