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Majority of British gamblers opposed to state-mandated spending rules

23rd May 2022 10:43 am GMT

Research conducted by YouGov on behalf of Britain’s Betting and Gaming Council has found that a majority of gamblers in the UK are opposed to the government setting limits on their gambling spend.

The result of the polling has been released ahead of the expected publication of new gambling laws this summer.

It found that 65 per cent of gamblers believe that setting mandatory limits on gambling spend will encourage players to seek out unlicensed operators, with a majority (56 per cent) opposed to government mandated limits.

The prospect of stricter regulations for the industry follows calls by anti-gambling campaigners to ban all gambling advertising and sports sponsorship, and to impose intrusive affordability checks on British adults, despite the fact that problem gambling rates are falling under existing legislation. 

The problem gambling rate in Britain currently stands at 0.2 per cent, down from 0.4 per cent a year earlier.

“Where companies know and can see someone is developing a problem then obviously that should be the focus. But it shouldn’t mean we all have to get regulated, (football) clubs get told who they can sponsor with and we get told what we should spend money on,” said a respondent. “That’s ridiculous and too far to solve what is essentially a small problem really.”

“Who’s idea is this - is it the Conservatives? I’m shocked to be honest, it sounds like something from a big brother style country,” another respondent said of the prospect of having to provide bank statements to prove they can afford to gamble. “We can’t seriously be doing this sort of stuff in a free country. What are we going to have left?”.

Commenting on the findings, BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said: “At the BGC we support the Government’s Review of Gambling as an important opportunity to further raise standards, building on the changes introduced in recent times and the welcome reductions in problem gambling rates. But ministers need to act in a way that is carefully targeted at problem gamblers and those at risk, not the overwhelming majority of the 22.5 million Brits who enjoy having a bet each month. 

“This latest polling and focus groups in key battleground constituencies shows how outraged punters will be if the Government listens to anti-gambling prohibitionists who want to interfere in people’s privacy and freedom of choice, by demanding personal documentation before you can have a bet, and by banning things and generally spoiling their enjoyment just because some politicians look down their noses at people who like a bet.

“People think politicians live on a different planet as it is. Telling them what they can and cannot do with their own time and their own money isn’t going to help fix that perception,” Dugher concluded. “Ministers should also stop being so complacent about the dangers of the unsafe, unregulated black market online. It’s real and it’s growing, and it is targeting vulnerable people and problem gamblers. This is not an argument against change. It’s an argument for getting changes right. Ministers need to be careful and smart - and they need to be wary about overreaching themselves and interfering unnecessarily in people’s lives”.

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