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BGC urges government to honour affordability checks commitments

| By Robert Fletcher
Britain’s Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has called on the government to honour its commitments on frictionless financial risk checks after it was revealed a parliamentary debate will take place on the matter.
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The debate will take place on 26 February after a petition on the measure. It was one of several proposed in the Gambling Act white paper, which passed 100,000 signatures. The BGC said it would support such measures if they do not impact players not at risk of gambling harm.  

Proposals include detailed affordability checks on players losing £1,000 (€1,162/$1,264) in 24 hours or £2,000 over 90 days. Operators would also have to perform checks on players with a monthly net loss beyond £125 or £500 per year.

The BGC stated its position on the matter has not changed, saying enhanced spending checks online are needed. However, it reiterated these should be frictionless. 

“Ministers promised Parliament that checks would be frictionless. They now need to honour that commitment and will the means,” BGC CEO Michael Dugher said.

“At the BGC we supported enhanced checks for online gambling but have been clear throughout that checks should be carefully targeted on those showing signs of problem gambling, or those who are at risk of harm, so operators can use technology to take swift action.

“They must also remain frictionless for the vast majority. Punters have repeatedly made clear they will not submit to intrusive checks.”

BGC: enhanced checks should not push players to black market

Dugher also noted that the majority of players bet perfectly safely and responsibly. He said the government needs to strike a balance between improved checks and not interfering with the experience of players who bet safely and responsibly.

“It is crucial no check is introduced which risks driving these punters to the unsafe, unregulated black market online,” Dugher said. “These sites have none of the standards or protections offered by BGC members and they make no contribution either to the Exchequer or sports like horse racing.

“We continue to work closely with the Gambling Commission and believe there should be a proper pilot before any permanent changes are introduced.”

Dugher to replace Simmonds as BGC chair

The BGC statement comes after the organisation last week announced Brigid Simmonds will step down as its chair in April. Dugher will replace her and his role as CEO will be vacated until a replacement is found.

Simmonds had been BGC chair since its inception in 2019, overseeing attempts to represent the UK’s gambling industry.

Upon taking over from Simmonds, Dugher will be tasked with overseeing the implementation of the white paper.

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