BGC: Gambling White Paper must focus on child protection

| By Nosa Omoigui
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has called on the government to put child protection at the “front and centre” of the upcoming Gambling White Paper.

The White Paper forms part of the government’s Gambling Act Review, led by the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) which looks to assess the 2005 Gambling Act and propose reforms.

It will cover a wide range of areas, including stake and spend limits, new rules around advertising and bonusing, and additional protections for younger adults.

The BGC was keen to highlight the steps forward taken by the regulated market with regards to child protection. A total of 15 measures have been introduced since the BGC’s formation in 2019, with more scheduled to come in the near future.

Such initiatives include the Young People’s Gambling Harm Prevention Programme, delivered across the UK by gambling charities the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM) and GamCare.

BGC members also implemented rules that limited children’s ability to view gambling ads on football clubs’ official social media accounts earlier this year.

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said: “We strongly support the government’s Gambling Review, which highlighted the protection of children and vulnerable people in a fair and open gambling economy as one of the government’s main priorities. We therefore hope that child protection will be front and centre of the forthcoming white paper.

“The BGC and our members will continue drive further changes to prevent under-18s and other vulnerable groups from being exposed to gambling advertising online.

“The regulated betting and gaming industry is determined to promote safer gambling, which is in stark contrast to the unsafe and growing online black market, which has none of the safeguards which are commonplace among BGC members.”

The BGC was also keen to highlight the effectiveness of certain measures its members have implemented. It found that the whistle-to-whistle ban on pre-watershed TV betting adverts during live sport led to a 97% reduction in these ads being seen by children.

Another study also found that betting shops performed better than supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol forecourts when it came to child protection, as 90% passed secret shopper and age verification checks.

Overall the rate of problem gambling for 16 to 24-year-olds had fallen from 0.8% to 0.4%, according to a recent report by the Gambling Commission.

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