By Iqbal Johal
Betting and Gaming Council CEO Michael Dugher says the work the gambling industry has done to protect players during the coronavirus outbreak should alleviate fears existing outside the sector.
It was announced last week members of the BGC in the UK would no longer advertise on TV or radio during lockdown, to be implemented no later than 7 May, for at least six weeks.
In March, the BGC also introduced a 10-pledge action plan to protect anyone at risk of gambling harms during this period, including an increase in safer gambling messages directly to customers.
Dugher reinforced that the BGC and its members are taking their responsibilities seriously, criticising those who suggest the industry would exploit the crisis.
He wrote on Politics Home: «The BGC and its members take their responsibilities seriously. At the start of the COVID-19 crisis, anti-gambling hardliners warned there would be a huge increase in gambling, that operators would ‘cash in on COVID’ and that marketing and advertising would be stepped up to ‘groom’ new customers to online betting.
«None of this is true. Of course I expect prohibitionists to keep shifting the goalposts and to keep using COVID as their opportunity to kick the industry. But thanks to the action we have taken, standards are actually on the up and fears have proven unfounded.»
The BGC CEO also singled out one MP’s comparison of advertising gambling to advertising heroin.
Dugher added: «I appreciate working from home is driving us all a little stir crazy at the moment, but one prominent anti-gambling MP recently even said it was right to ban all advertising of gambling because ‘you wouldn’t advertise heroin on TV.’
«I’m all for engaging with the industry’s critics, but in all seriousness comparing things like the National Lottery or online bingo, that still advertise on the telly, with heroin is just plain daft.»