BGC dismisses ‘arbitrary’ deposit limits in SMF report

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has hit back at proposals made by The Social Market Foundation (SMF) which called for new caps on player deposits.

The report by the cross-party think-tank claimed that it is ‘inevitable that gamblers will sometimes spend more than they can afford’.

In response to the report which was presented to MPs, the BGC highlighted that it does support ‘many of the measures’ proposed such as ‘the concept of a British gambling kite mark’ to demonstrate commitment to integrity.

In its response, the BGC underlined that it welcomed different perspectives on how gambling should be monitored and legislated for the benefit of society.

It said: “This is a thoughtful study ahead of the Government’s Review of the Gambling Act – a review we fully support. We welcome the fact that, in contrast to the siren voices of prohibitionists who claim problem gambling is high and increasing, this report rightly states that there is no evidence of a rise in problem gambling and that levels have been stable around 0.7% for nearly two decades.

“Although we do support many of the measures contained in the report, the authors share the BGC’s determination to raise standards and we welcome the important acknowledgement that our members have taken action to drive higher standards, especially during the Covid-19 crisis.

“We fully endorse the concept of a British gambling kite mark as a sign of operators’ commitment to fairness, quality and integrity and the BGC would welcome the opportunity to lead on the development of this concept.”

The think-tank called for further ‘protective regulation’ of wagering limits to be rolled out, advising regulators that gamblers should be limited to betting ‘£100 each month until they pass more stringent checks‘. In addition, SMF called for new measures to be introduced to prevent vulnerable individuals from chasing their debts via gambling.

Hitting back at the proposals, the BGC claimed that the implementation of an ‘arbitrary and random low cap on spending’ would see players drift towards unregulated, black market sites – a reality that has dawned on European jurisdictions that have placed wagering and spend restrictions on online gambling services.

The BGC statement added: “It is vital that the Government’s Review is evidence-led and avoids the dangers of unintended consequences. Some 30 million people enjoy an occasional bet, whether that’s on the Lottery, bingo or sports and gaming, and the overwhelming majority of them do so perfectly safely.

“We already carry out robust and improved affordability checks, and regularly intervene on customers to ensure they gamble within their means. We disagree with the suggestion of an arbitrary and random low cap on spending and can think of no other area of the economy where the government determines how much an individual can spend.

“We must avoid measures that see safe regulated betting being driven to unregulated, offshore, illegal black market operators online who don’t have the same checks, interventions and high standards that apply to regulated BGC members.

“Measures must be proportionate, evidence-led and fully thought through so as not to jeopardise the 100,000 jobs the industry supports or the over £3 billion in tax revenues it generates for the Exchequer.”

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