BGC: Overly strict legislation would put sport at risk

UK industry body the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has highlighted vital funding provided by members to the world of sport - and argued legislators must keep this in mind when reviewing the country's Gambling Act.


In a submission to an inquiry conducted by the parliamentary Culture, Media and Sport Committee, the BGC noted that a variety of sports - including horseracing, snooker, football and rugby league - have relied on payments from the betting industry as the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic limits other revenue streams.

“The financial impact of the pandemic has been keenly felt by a range of sports, and I’m delighted that the betting and gaming industry has been able to step in to help out,” BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said.

As one example of such payments, the BGC highlighted GVC’s ‘Pitching In’ project, which has provided “millions of pounds” for lower-league football clubs without an agreement for the clubs to advertise GVC brands.

In addition, it pointed to the long-standing “symbiotic relationship” between the betting industry and horse and greyhound racing, with the racing industry receiving around £200m from betting shops.

“The sectors would not exist without the sponsorship, levies and media rights payments paid by the betting sector, and so too there would be no product to bet on,” the BGC said.

The industry body also noted the value of sponsorship agreements, repeating the English Football League’s recent point that gambling sponsorship provides £40m annually to its clubs. It added that betting sponsorship is worth an additional £10m per year to snooker and darts.

“Some sports are living on a knife-edge because of the ongoing ban on spectators, so the funding provided by our members is even more important than usual,” Dugher said.

Finally, Dugher pointed to licensees' decision to pay additional fees on existing racing streaming and data deals until 2 December, in order to make up for lost revenue for the racecourses during the latest lockdown in England.

Dugher continued by arguing the industry’s support of sport should be kept in mind as the Government prepares to announce a review of the 2005 Gambling Act. He claimed that an overly restrictive act that drove too many players towards unlicensed operators would limit the industry’s ability to provide this support.

“We welcome the Government’s imminent gambling review, which will examine the financial relationship between sports such as football, rugby league, horseracing, snooker and darts and betting operators,” he said.

“The industry’s importance to these popular national pastimes shows why it’s vital that the Government gets the balance right, and does not drive punters towards the illegal, online black market, who have no interest in supporting sport either at a grassroots or national level.”