Michael Dugher, Chief Executive of single industry representative body the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), has stated that UK gambling will support the government in a time of national crisis.
On Friday, the BGC published its ‘compulsory action plan‘ outlining 10 measures strengthening industry social responsibility and consumer standards, which all BGC members will adhere to during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Key member pledges include increasing safer gambling messages across websites, the active promotion of deposit limits and safer gambling tools, reporting rogue advertising and expanding welfare checks on customers.
“In this time of national emergency, with many of us self-isolating and experiencing social distancing, away from our friends and family, we need to come together as a country and watch out and look after each other,” said Dugher. “And as CEO of the new betting and gaming standards body, the BGC, I know that this also applies to our members too.”
The action plan supports the UK Gambling Commission‘s (UKGC) demand that industry operators demonstrate ‘heightened consumer protections’ and responsible marketing during a period where consumers are in lockdown or isolation.
Dugher responded to political concerns on gambling engagement increasing during the isolation period, which has led the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) to call for the enforcement of a £50 daily spending limit.
Countering APPG concerns, Dugher pointed to COVID-19 realities which see an entire industry kneecapped by the closure of its retail presence (bookmaker and casinos), combined with the blanket cancellation of global sports fixtures.
He added: “The idea that the COVID-19 crisis will lead to a boom in betting is just plain wrong. I understand why the prohibitionists and anti-gambling campaigners want to give that impression, but the reality is that operators have been posting warnings to the market as revenues slide dramatically.”
Dugher closed the list of pledges by affirming that BGC members were committed to supporting the government’s ‘National Effort’ in supporting health networks and emergency services fighting against COVID-19.
“Britain is at its best when we come together,” he said. “We will come through this crisis, in which we all have a role to play.
“I am determined that our industry plays its full part in the Government’s ‘National Effort’ – whether that’s in helping with volunteers or resources or facilities. But it also means us helping to protect people most at risk in these extraordinarily difficult and challenging times. I am determined that we do just that.”