The Rt Hon John Stellar discusses the upcoming Gambling White Paper
With the uncertainty of the upcoming Gambling White Paper, many within the gambling industry have been left concerned with what the result will mean for those working within the sector.
Speaking on behalf of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), John Spellar, the Labour MP for Warley, has reiterated how the economy needs the betting and gaming industry. The Rt Hon John Spellar has been an MP since 1992 and has previously spoken out against fur farming and the Armenian genocide.
Protecting British jobs and businesses is vital
In his statement on the BGC’s website, Spellar started by saying that the upcoming Gambling White Paper is “an opportunity to safeguard a £7.1 billion Great British success story.” He followed this by reiterating the warning of a worldwide recession and how vital protecting British jobs and businesses is for the economy.
Spellar goes on further to say how the current Government has shown “that it is all too willing to turn its back on British business whether that is in manufacturing, technology or leisure and hospitality.” He went on further to say how Government contracts have been passed abroad such as UK passports being printed in Poland.
Spellar elaborates by saying that the “Government may be poised to throw open the gates to the black market in betting and gaming.”
Supporting over 110,000 jobs
Following a new report from EY, Stellar says that “the betting and gaming industry is a Great British success story” as the industry is expanding overseas whilst investing in high-tech, high-skilled jobs in the UK.
According to figures from the BGC, the industry supports over 20,000 jobs in the West Midlands alone with the total sector supporting 110,000 jobs and contributing £7.1bn to the economy which generates £4.2bn in taxes for the Treasury annually.
He goes on further to mention the success of Bet365 (including Bet365 Bingo) and how the company developed cutting-edge technology with over 4,500 staff members employed in Stoke-on-Trent - which is the biggest private sector employer there. Spellar added: “These highly skilled, high-quality jobs provide excellent long-term career opportunities for families across the area.”
Problem gambling rates are amongst the lowest in Europe
The recent EY report also shows the vastness of the sector with bookies in high streets and casinos in major cities. Spellar further stated: “There is potential for more growth, with estimates suggesting the industry will generate 15,000 tech jobs in the next five years alone.”
He goes on to say that the figures from EY “confirm what we already knew” that most people gamble in a safe and responsible way. The statistics show that every month, 22.5m adults in the UK enjoy playing at bingo sites, betting or playing online slots. The figures emphasise that problem gambling rates are amongst the lowest in Europe at 0.3% according to an independent regulator.
The sector needs certainty from the Government
Stellar emphasised that the upcoming White Paper needs to be “sensible and proportionate, not suggestions such as imposing blanket affordability checks at very low levels.” He stated that the UK Government needs to give certainty to those within the industry.
Blanket checks will only “fuel the growth of the lucrative and unregulated black market, which has none of the safer gambling measures in place in the regulated market and contributes nothing to the UK in terms of jobs, taxation of investment in the sports we all love” according to Stellar.
He mentions how examples across Europe have shown this with Norway’s black market accounting for over 66% of all money staked whilst this is 57% in France.
With the looming recession and a financial crisis across Britain, Stellar said: “the country cannot afford for thousands of punters to be heading offshore to the black market. Any money spent there will not contribute to the UK economy nor funding our essential public services.”
He closes off his message by saying that there cannot be uncertainty for such a large and successful industry going forward adding “the Government need to get on with publishing the Gambling White Paper, providing protections where they are needed but must not put at risk yet another British industry.”