The Betting and Gaming Council’s (BGC) recent Annual General Meeting saw the organisation create a compilation of cross-party support for the betting industry.
The views of several MPs were voiced in a recent video, including Ben Bradley, Conservative MP for Mansfield, who noted the investment and employment opportunities provided by the industry in his local area.
“More than 500 people in Nottinghamshire are employed in this sector alone, and its a rare example of something that is thriving on our highstreet.”
Echoing Bradley’s comments, Dame Rose Winterton, Labour Party MP for Doncaster Central – an area in which horse racing plays a major role in the local economy – said: “We want to see more people coming back to our highstreets, and this is an important part of that.”
Issuing his own statement, Michael Dugher, BGC CEO, said: “The good news is, problem gambling rates are low by international comparisons, but they’re also starting to fall.”
A notable speaker at the BGC AGM was John Whittingdale, Conservative Party MP for Maldon, who shared his views on the 2005 Gamblng Act review.
Addressing the assembled delegates, the former Gambling Minister – who held the position of Minister of State for Media and Data – raised concerns about advertising and back market operators.
The MP dismissed claims that advertising fuels problem gambling, saying: “I was very much aware that firstly the evidence that advertising leads to an increase in problem gambling is pretty much non-existent. Some have argued that it does but certainly the assessments I have seen showed no linkage.”
Although acknowledging that there should be some restrictions and requirements, the former Minister asserted that a ban on arrangements – such as the anticipated prohibition of sponsorship deals between football clubs and operators – would have a negative impact on the sporting sector.
On the threat of the black market, he stated: “There are some in the campaign groups who dismiss it, who say the black market is tiny, that it is vastly exaggerated by the industry as a sort of bogeyman they use to try and argue against controls. I don’t believe that. I believe the black market is real.”
Whittingdale vacated his Ministerial position in September 2021, returning to the backbenches after PM Boris Johnson initiated a cabinet reshuffle. His responsibility for overseeing the overhaul of gambling regulations was taken on by Chris Philp, MP for Croydon South.