BGC calls for creation of gambling ombudsman

| By Conor Mulheir
Industry body the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has called upon the UK government to establish a gambling ombudsman to deal with customer complaints.
Houses of Parliament

The move comes as ministers continue with the government’s Gambling Act review, and are expected to produce a white paper at the end of 2021.

The BGC’s chief executive, Michael Dugher, said the call for the establishment of an ombudsman was further proof of the regulated industry’s determination to drive up standards.

The group has proposed that it be made a legal requirement for all licensed betting and gaming operators to sign up to any such body.

“We hope that the government will look favourably on our calls for a gambling ombudsman to be established as soon as possible following the conclusion of the gambling review, which we strongly support,” Dugher said.

“The BGC and its members recognise the need for further change in our industry and a new gambling ombudsman would be a step forward in customer redress – I’m proud to be giving it our backing.”

Flutter UK and Ireland’s chief executive, Conor Grant, also added his support to the proposal.

He said: “True commitment to putting customers first also means making sure that they have somewhere independent to go if something does go amiss – that is why Flutter is fully behind the call from the BGC today for the government to include an ombudsman in its plans for reform of the gambling industry.”

Terms of the UK’s long-anticipated review of the 2005 Gambling Act were released by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in December last year, and included questions on advertising and bonuses, limits on stakes, speed and prizes, and other consumer protection measures.

DCMS said the review would be built around three core objectives; to examine whether changes to gambling regulations are needed, strike a balance between consumer freedom and harm prevention, and ensure customers are protected in both land-based and online environments.

Industry stakeholders have been calling for the establishment of an industry ombudsman for years, including Tom Watson during his tenure as deputy leader of the Labour Party.

An ombudsman was also proposed as part of the Social Market Foundation’s (SMF) report on regulatory reform, which called for the Gambling Commission to be split into two distinct bodies. Under the SMF’s proposal, a Gambling Licensing Authority would oversee license suitability and compliance issues, while the Gambling Ombudsman would handle customer protection and affordability.

Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter