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BGC hails “positive progress” as British problem gambling rates drop

| By Robert Fletcher
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has praised the efforts of the industry after new figures showed a decline in problem gambling rates in Great Britain had fallen, but said more work needs to be done to ensure standards continue to rise.

Data released by the Gambling Commission confirmed Britain’s problem gambling rate in the year ended 31 December 2022 stood at 0.2%, compared to 0.3% in the previous year.

These latest statistics come ahead of the government publishing its much-anticipated white paper on gambling reforms, with this expected to be made public in the near future.

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said the government should take into account the fall in problem gambling rates when setting out any new laws, repeating his earlier comments that legislation should be targeted to help those players most at risk. 

“These newly released figures are further evidence of the positive progress we have made on safer gambling and underline our urgent calls for ministers to take a genuinely evidence-based approach to the upcoming white paper,” Dugher said.

“These figures showing that problem gambling has fallen once again will no doubt come as a profound disappointment to anti-gambling prohibitionists, who like to vastly overstate the issue.

“Their alarmist demands are not backed up by the evidence. We want big changes, but they must be focused on this small minority who are vulnerable to harm – not the vast majority who bet safely and responsibly. We need a risk-based approach which helps the vulnerable, not ruins the experience for the responsible majority.”

Dugher added that the government should avoid legislation that could potentially lead to an increase in black market gambling such as blanket affordability checks, saying this could cause harm to the industry, players and the British economy as a whole. 

“Just under half of all UK adults enjoy a bet each month and it is clear once again that the overwhelming majority do so perfectly safely and responsibly,” Dugher said. “However, our work to raise standards across the regulated industry will continue, to keep up the momentum and build on the progress we have made recent years.

“The regulated betting and gaming industry is determined to promote safer gambling, unlike the unsafe, unregulated and growing online black market, which has none of the safeguards which are the norm among BGC members.

“Ministers should not drive customers into the arms of the black market by introducing blanket low level intrusive affordability checks for all punters but rather use technology to target those at risk.

“We welcome these figures but refuse to be complacent. Our mission to drive up standards continues.”

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