UK gambling chief has pushed back against criticism that betting giants have lobbied with government over the upcoming white paper.
CEO of Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) Michael Dugher said in a tweet this morning: “For the record, we’ve repeatedly met with ministers, officials and advisers across government.”
“Government should rightly engage about future changes with an industry that pays £4.5bn in tax & supports 119,000 jobs. Government have also met anti-gambling campaigners and that’s how it should be too”, he wrote.
The comments come after the Observer reported that documents released under freedom of information laws showed that executives from Bet365, Flutter and Entain, held an online meeting with the Treasury and Revenue and Custom tax specialists last year to raise concerns about excessive regulations in the market.
Commenting on these reports, Matt Zarb-Cousin, director of campaign group Clean Up Gambling, said: “The industry is trying to water down the proposed reforms in the gambling review by lobbying tax officials under the radar. This is massive propaganda from an industry that has engaged in tax avoidance for years. I hope the Treasury isn’t buying it. There needs to be full transparency over this lobbying campaign.”
The government is set to release a white paper in the coming weeks, which looks to completely overhaul the industry and introduce safer gambling mechanisms, which could include affordability checks on punters.
Meanwhile, the betting business said there is a “very real risk” that the taxes of about £3.2bn a year it hands to the Treasury could be impacted if draconian measures were brought in.
Speaking with City A.M. earlier this year, Dugher said: “I’m really worried that if we get the changes wrong here [in the UK] like they have in other countries in Europe, we will drive people into the black market. This means customers will be playing on websites that don’t have any of the safeguards or tools that the regulated market has”.
He explained that the BGC has been working closely with the government to find meaningful ways to help problem gamblers, whilst also ensuring the thriving industry is not stifled.
The BGC represents and regulates around 90 per cent of the gaming and betting industry, including the biggest names in the business like Bet365 and William Hill.