Michael Dugher Warns against Removing the "Joy of Gambling"
Michael Dugher, the CEO of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), has called on the UK government to ensure that they do not take "all the joy out of life" with the gambling review.
Writing in The Times, Dugher highlighted the record number of people that attended the recent Cheltenham Festival and pointed out that people there, together with millions of others who watched on television, had placed bets on races throughout the week.
This is great news for the racing industry, but it should also give ministers, currently poring over the final details of the gambling review, reason to pause and think. Betting and racing are joined at the hip. Betting provides racing with £350m ($460m) a year. This lifeblood funding kept the sport and tens of thousands of jobs, especially in rural areas, going during the pandemic. Many other sports are similarly helped by their link to betting.
Dugher went on to say that he believes positive news about the industry, together with recent figures from the Gambling Commission relating to problem gaming, will disappoint those who are against gambling in principle.
The recently published figures showed a fall in problem gambling rates. It is now at 0.3% compared to 0.6% 18 months ago, a fall from 340,000 to 170,000 people.
In his article, Dugher argued that regulations need updating for the digital age and that reforms are needed to target problem gamblers. He believes that the industry supports such change but that the government must get it right.
He cautioned against those campaigning for "draconian rules that will demand punters hand over bank statements and payslips if they lose more than £100. They want to drive gambling underground with bans on advertising and sports sponsorship."
As such, with the BGC supporting roughly 119,000 jobs, generating £4.5 in tax, and contributing £7.7 billion to the economy, Dugher says that there is much to lose if wrong decisions are made regarding new regulations.