BGC: Problem gambling figures provide ‘food for thought’ ahead of White Paper

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has recommended that Ministers factor in the latest data on problem gambling prevalence ahead of the White Paper publication. 

Providing an update yesterday, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) revealed the results of its quarterly surveys over the past 12 months. 

The data demonstrated a reduced problem gambling rate of 0.2% for 2022, down from 0.4% last year, as well as a decline in the number of women suffering from problem gambling to just 0.1%.

Responding to the revelations, the BGC has praised the efforts made by the UK’s betting industry to combat problem gambling and minimise harm, whilst also reiterating its arguments regarding the Gambling Act review. 

Michael Dugher, BGC Chief Executive, said: “These newly released figures are yet again further evidence of the positive progress we have made on problem gambling, which is low by international standards and has fallen in recent times, thanks to the many initiatives we have taken including using advertising to promote safer gambling tools like deposit limits and time-outs, as well as other changes we have made to further raise standards.”

In particular, Dugher argued that the figures should give British policymakers ‘food for thought’ when making judgements on the overhaul of the 2005 Gambling Act.

The White Paper concerning the review is apparently due for publication soon despite the collapse of Boris Johnson’s government leading a cessation of all legislation signings – many have now accepted that the review is most likely once again delayed. 

Provisions of the review are also still unclear, although the topic of affordability checks has long played a key role in the debate, but clampdowns on sports sponsorships – particularly in the Premier League – are expected to be majorly watered down.

In the BGC’s view, policymakers should focus on ensuring that bettors are not pushed towards ‘black market’ operators that do not offer the same social responsibility standards as the regulated industry – standards which have contributed to falling problem gambling rates. 

Additionally, the standards body also stated that Ministers should consider the difference between problem gambling and gamlbing addiction, stating that the two are ‘often conflated, but they are entirely different’, with the latter requiring a ‘clinical assessment’.

“The latest problem gambling figures will come as a blow to anti-gambling prohibitionists who like to vastly overstate the issues to suit their efforts to treat gambling like tobacco, not like alcohol, but it also provides food for thought for new ministers considering a white paper this autumn,” Dugher added.

“We look forward to the white paper as an opportunity to drive further changes, but the new government should be guided by evidence and seek to carefully target future measures on problem gamblers and those at risk – not intrude on the perfectly safe enjoyment of millions of punters who’s choice of leisure does so much to support jobs and the economy, as well as providing a lifeline for sports like racing.”

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