Michael Dugher sets out his stall following confirmation of parliamentary debate next month as he warns checks could drive punters to the black market
Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) CEO Michael Dugher has said ministers must “honour the commitment” to ensure affordability checks are frictionless ahead of a parliamentary debate next month.
The head of the trade body praised Jockey Club CEO Nevin Truesdale for securing the debate, which is due to be held on 26 February, as MPs explore the much-maligned measure.
Truesdale’s original petition called for the abolishment of the checks as laid out in the white paper into the Gambling Act 2005 review.
Dugher said Truesdale had managed to inject a “much-needed dose of common sense” into the debate before slamming reformists.
He remarked: “Too often, the debate around gambling has been dominated by a handful of out-of-touch anti-gambling prohibitionists whose enthusiasm for draconian changes would wreck great British sports like horseracing.”
Dugher stressed it was now down to government to adhere to the promise that checks would be frictionless, a bug bear that many gamblers have claimed not to be the case so far.
The BGC CEO continued: “At the BGC we supported enhanced checks for online gambling, but have been clear throughout that checks should be carefully targeted on those showing signs of problem gambling or those who are at risk of harm, so operators can use technology to take swift action.
“They must also remain frictionless for the vast majority, as punters have repeatedly made clear they will not submit to intrusive checks.
“The overwhelming majority bet perfectly safely and responsibly, and it is crucial no check is introduced which risks driving these punters to the unsafe, unregulated black market online.
“These sites have none of the standards or protections offered by BGC members and they make no contribution either to the Exchequer or sports like horseracing.”
Dugher confirmed the trade body is continuing to work with the Gambling Commission and reaffirmed his position that a pilot scheme should be rolled out ahead of permanent changes.
Elsewhere, Dugher will step up to become BGC chair on 21 April after Brigid Simmonds announced she will depart from the role.
Simmonds has been chair of the body since 2019, and with Dugher set to replace her, the BGC announced it is working with an external recruitment firm to source a new CEO.