A House of Lords cross-party group, Peers for Gambling Reform, have been criticised for publishing “fantasy figures” by Betting & Gaming Council CEO Michael Dugher, with the former Labour MP dubbing the idea that tighter gambling regulation would stimulate growth in other sectors as “economically daft”.
The Betting and Gaming Council has responded to the Peers for Gambling Reform’s (PGR) report, dismissing its economic assessment of industry reforms as “fantasy figures” and “economically daft”.
And he has a point.
The report stated that an overhaul of gambling laws would likely have positive outcomes on employment, tax revenue and employee earnings, with the industry’s losses from tighter regulations becoming “other sector’s” gains. Researchers modelled the effects of revenue substitution away from gambling into related sectors of the economy using a ‘simplified input-tooutput approach’. The report estimated that annual gambling industry profitability would fall by £696m to £974m.
Five key measures were recommended; affordability checks; stake limits on online casino games; a ban on sports sponsorships; the classification of loot boxes as a form of gambling; and the enforcement of a mandatory betting levy. Although the PGR report noted that these reforms ‘might reduce employment in the gambling industry’, it argued that public diversion of expenditure to ‘more labour intensive’ sectors could support up to 30,000 jobs and increase employee earnings up to £400 million.
In the BGC’s official response, chief executive Michael Dugher described the PGR’s claims as “fantasy figures”, adding that the idea that further restriction of the betting industry would stimulate growth in other sectors is “economically daft”.
“The dream of anti-gambling prohibitionists has always been to somehow force people not to gamble or to gamble less, just because they don’t like betting,” said Dugher. “A minority of peers may look down their noses at the millions of working people who enjoy a bet, but the truth is that the overwhelming majority do so perfectly safely.
“And the idea that somehow restricting betting would create more jobs is economically daft and frankly for the birds. This is the theory that if you closed the betting shops there would somehow be a boom in the sale of scented candles.”