The UK’s gambling industry body, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has called on the government to put child protection “front and centre” of the upcoming gambling white paper.
This comes after the BGC praised social media platform Facebook which is set to introduce an opt-out option for the vast majority of betting adverts on its platform.
BGC calls for focus on child protection
Today, the BGC chief executive Michael Dugher has called for the UK government to place the protection of children “front and centre of the forthcoming gambling white paper.”
Since taking leadership of the BGC in 2019, Dugher has outlined the industry’s unified commitment to keeping young people safe from gambling harms through stricter age-verification requirements, implementing advertising safeguards and raising awareness through education.
During Dugher’s tenure, BGC members have committed to 15 new child protection measures.
Those measures included the development of a £10m “Young People’s Gambling Harm Prevention Programme”, which was delivered to children, teachers, and youth workers across the UK by safer gambling charities YGAM and GamCare.
Additionally, all BGC members must adhere to the new Code of Conduct on advertising. This includes enforced age-gating controls across their online and social media coverage, ensuring that gambling content is only visible to audiences aged 25 and over.
The BGC also introduced a whistle-to-whistle ban on betting advertising across traditional media formats during live sports before the watershed. This has since led to a 97% reduction in the number of young people seeing such ads at that time.
In its announcement, the BGC added that it is calling on others in the regulated betting and gaming industry, and those selling products such as scratch cards in convenience stores and fruit machines in pubs, to follow the lead of betting shops in their success with independent age verification checks.
What Dugher had to say
In today’s announcement, the BGC chief executive explained that the industry body is committed to protecting young people from gambling harms.
Dugher explained: “We strongly support the Government’s Gambling Review, which highlighted the protection of children and vulnerable people in a fair and open gambling economy as one of the Government’s main priorities. We therefore hope that child protection will be front and centre of the forthcoming white paper.
“It is clear that the steps BGC members have taken over the previous two years are now providing results.
“Nevertheless, we are not complacent, and protecting young people remains our top priority as we continue raising standards across the regulated industry.
“The BGC and our members will continue to drive further changes to prevent under-18s and other vulnerable groups from being exposed to gambling advertising online.
“The regulated betting and gaming industry is determined to promote safer gambling, which is in stark contrast to the unsafe and growing online black market, which has none of the safeguards which are commonplace among BGC members.”