BGC to UK Culture Secretary: Reject Gambling Taxes
Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), has publicly appealed to Lucy Frazer, Britain’s new Culture, Media, and Sport secretary. He is calling for Frazer to reject any and all proposals seeking to increase taxation of the gambling industry. There is also a renewed push to publish guidelines for state gambling policies.
A change in culture secretary renews industry concerns.
During prime minister Rishi Sunak’s recent cabinet restructuring, Frazer was brought on to head the Department of Culture, Media, and Sports (DCMS). Along with the change of leadership came a reduced role, with digital gaming no longer the responsibility of DCMS. It is a significant shift in the DCMS, the “Ministry of Fun.”
The move was met with comments by Dugher, whose BGC organization works to create industry-wide standards and advocate for the industry as a whole.
Dugher told Frazer to resist levying any new taxes on gambling businesses, framing it in terms of the post-pandemic economic recovery. “We also hope that as a sector supporting jobs and investment in the UK, recovering from the pandemic and facing tough economic headwinds, she will reject calls for any new taxes on the industry.”
Along with no new taxes, Dugher stressed that new regulations should not get in the way of “the overwhelming majority who enjoy betting safely and responsibly.”
He also noted that the BGC advocates for more support given to people with gambling issues rather than new taxes and regulations that could “[drive] people to the unsafe, unregulated black market online.”
Pushing for the Gambling white paper.
Another point of interest was the Gambling Act white paper commissioned by the government in 2020. That announcement was part of a potential major overhaul of policy, and it came out at the same time that the minimum lottery age was raised to 18.
Since the white paper was announced, its publication date has been continually pushed back. The recent restructuring of DCMS was yet another cause for delay. On February 4, 2023, Gambling Minister Paul Scully told the BGC that the paper would be coming out in a matter of weeks, but this has once again proven unlikely due to the change in leadership at the DCMS.
The white paper acts as an official review of the 2005 Gambling Act, with potentially broad implications for a wide variety of gaming, including no account casinos and sports betting. It will make suggestions around the stake and spend limits, new advertising, and employee bonusing rules, systems for customer complaints, and boundaries around play for younger adults. Though it isn’t legally binding, it will guide government action on gambling.
The potentially sweeping implications have made the industry eager for the white paper to be published. Dugher reflected these concerns in his remarks as well, stating, “It’s time now for the government to end the damaging uncertainty and get on with publishing the white paper as soon as possible.”
With a new culture secretary in place, industry advocates like Dugher are hopeful that this state of affairs can be resolved and that taxes are not part of the upcoming changes.