The UK gambling sector has doubled down on its “huge contribution” to the UK economy as it braces for the biggest shake-up of betting laws in the last 15 years.
Betting shops, casinos and the online gaming sector contributed £7.7bn in gross value added to the UK economy in 2019, according to figures released today.
The industry also supports 119,000 jobs and gives £4.5bn in taxes to the exchequer.
The report, commissioned by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) and published by EY, comes as ministers prepare a major overhaul of gambling laws.
A call for evidence is due to close on 31 March, with ministers expected to produce a white paper on future regulation of the industry later this year.
The review of the 2005 Gambling Act is designed to ensure laws are updated for the modern age and ensure appropriate measures are in place to protect consumers.
Online stake limits, controls on gambling advertising and age limits will all be considered, as well as a review of the Gambling Commission’s powers.
The BGC said it supported the review and was working to promote safer gambling, but warned the changes should not do anything to put future jobs or tax income at risk.
While gambling firms have benefited from a surge in online betting during the pandemic, they have also been hit by high street closures.
The report revealed that lockdown closures have caused the permanent closure of 374 shops and two casinos and led to the estimated loss of 5,000 jobs.
“At a time of economic fears and huge pressures on public finances caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the huge contribution betting and gaming makes to UK plc could not be more important,” said BGC chief executive Michael Dugher.
“As the standards body representing the regulated industry, the BGC fully supports the
government’s Gambling Review plus the need for continued higher safer gambling standards and more change to regulation.
“However, it is vital that the government gets those changes right and does nothing to put at risk the future jobs and tax take of a growing, world-leading British industry.”
In a shock move earlier this month, Gambling Commission chief executive Neil McArthur announced he was stepping down after less than three years in the role.
The abrupt departure has left the gambling watchdog scrambling to find a new permanent boss while it awaits the outcome of the government review.