Who Are The Betting and Gaming Council?
As debate heats up around gambling regulation In this article we profile the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) the voice of online slot site, casino and sportsbook operators in the UK.
The Betting Gaming Council (BGC) is an organisation that represents most of the online gambling businesses, high street bookmakers and casinos in the UK. Their aim is to set standards of safety and fairness and to represent the industry at a time when it faces heavy criticism from the media, MPs and addiction charities. With a new Gambling Act on the horizon in 2021 or 2022 the BGC looks to provide positive PR by highlighting efforts made to self-regulate alongside the rules imposed by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).
What Does the Betting and Gaming Council Do?
If you are following the news stories about the review of the Gambling Act then you may well have heard the BGC mentioned, or listened to their chairman, Brigid Simmonds, discussing what they do. But how does their role differ from that of the UK GC and does self-regulation actually work?
The UK GC is the official regulator of the industry. It was formed after the 2005 Gambling Act and it issues licenses to operators wishing to take bets from punters based in the UK. The Commission can issue funds and suspend the license of any business that breaches the terms. It also reviews and amends regulation where it sees fit. For example, they introduced a ban on credit card deposits in April 2020 and are currently examining the possibility of reducing the maximum stake on online slot games to £2.
The BGC is different because it is an industry body, not a government one, though their work does overlap with the Commission in many instances.
Outside of the rules upheld by the UKGC the Betting and Gaming Council has its own Code of Conduct, which is a standard that all members must adhere to and states similar aims to that of the Commission – essentially safe, fair and enjoyable gambling which is free from crime or exploitation. The code states obligations that include:
- Contribution of at least 0.1% of Gross Gaming Yield each year to support the National Responsible Gambling Strategy.
- Member must participate in industry self-exclusion scheme, GAMSTOP.
- Commitment to Digital Marketing code of Practice.
- Commitment to participate in Responsible Gambling Week.
- Implement new code of conduct to foster safe play in the 18 to 24-year-old group.
Steps taken by the BGC in 2020 to improve safety and tackle the risk of addiction include:
- New code or practice for VIP schemes include stricter affordability checks and monitoring of individual accounts.
- Requirement for 20% of all TV and Radio Ads to focus on Safer Gambling measures.
Does Self-Regulation Work?
Opponents to the gambling industry claim that self-regulation does not work and that tackling problem gambling is at odds with the business objectives of driving revenues from the most valued and loyal customers. Cynics argue that through the BGC the industry is only paying lip service to the critics and hoping to prevent much stricter regulation at a later date by showing that it can do the job itself. Often you will see that the BGC enshrines in its commitment regulation that the UK GC is already considering. For example, the new rules on VIP programs have been created as pressure from MPs to ban the schemes outright grows, and the requirements for more responsible gambling messaging in TV ads comes at a time when an outright ban on ads is on the table in the review of the Gambling Act.
To some degree this is true – members of the BGC know that it is better to be setting the standards yourself from within the industry than having them imposed from outside. But whatever their motivation, the Council has made important progress in areas that are in need of reform to better protect the consumer. Whether this will be seen to be enough when the new Gambling Bill is debated in parliament, only time will tell. But we suspect that tougher rules than those the BGC has imposed are inevitable.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is currently carrying out its review of gambling legislation and will be publishing a white paper in the Spring or Summer. We will publish news of its findings when they become available.