BGC calls for chancellor to tackle offshore sites and help retail sector

The BGC has called on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to take action on several areas of the UK gambling industry.

Today, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) called upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, to take action against illegal unlicensed gambling sites and to help the UK’s retail leisure industry.

The BGC’s call to action comes just before Sunak is set to deliver his first budget as Chancellor on 11 March 2020.

Helping the retail sector

According to the BGC, the reduction of the maximum stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) to £2 has played a significant role in the closure of 1,500 betting shops since April 2019. The BGC says that in order to help smaller bookmakers to continue trading, a reform to business rates is necessary.

In its announcement, the BGC called for the small business relief rate to apply to a wider range of businesses. In its current form, the relief rate allows businesses based in properties worth less than £51,000 to pay less tax when it comes to the occupation of non-domestic property.

BGC Chief Executive, Michael Dugher, said: “An antiquated business rates regime does nothing to help struggling high streets hit by a drop in footfall. Bookies and casinos help attract people to our town centres but once they’re gone there are few if any retailers to step in to take their place.

“We urge the Chancellor to take bold steps to help the high street with reform to business rates and casino taxation.”

The offshore market

The BGC also called for stricter measures to combat unlicensed and illegal gambling operators and described the offshore gambling market as a “clear threat to licensed operators” which has led to a loss of revenue for the Exchequer.

In February, the BGC said it conducted a survey which found that 2.2% of online gamblers in the UK have used an unlicensed operator to gamble in the last 12 months.

Dugher also said: “We welcomed the Government’s commitment to an Online Harms Bill as an opportunity to clamp down on the black-market and the big platform search engines promoting these sites. Unlike rogue black-market operators, BGC members in the regulated sector adhere to the highest standards – including zero tolerance on under-18s betting.

“We ask the Chancellor to press for change that will help boost Exchequer revenues and stop unlicensed operators from preying on vulnerable consumers.”

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