Just what is the Betting and Gaming Council?
ExplainerWe sit down with BGC Chairman, Brigid Simmonds, to learn more about the industry body driving the highest possible standards when it comes to responsible gambling and safe gaming
This means you can play at UK-licensed online casinos confident that the necessary processes and tools are in place to make sure you can stay in control of your play and access support if you need it.
The BGC is different to the Gambling Commission but is does work with the regulator to ensure that UK casinos are constantly improving when it comes to safe gaming.
This often means that its casino operator members meet new standards before they are brought into force by the UKGC, such as new restrictions on VIP schemes.
To learn more about the Betting and Gaming Council and the role it plays in making sure that online casino remains safe and fun, we spoke exclusively to BGC Chairman, Brigid Simmonds.
How does the BGC work together with the Gambling Commission to improve player protections?
We work closely with the Commission, although we both have different remits and roles.
We represent the views of our members to consultations on new policies or requirements being developed, and we share our thinking on new developments or technological advances with them.
What are the main differences between the BGC and the UKGC? Why is there a need for both?
The Commission is the formal regulator for the gambling industry established by Parliament through the Gambling Act, whereas the BGC is a standards body representing regulated betting and gaming companies, driving up standards across our membership.
Our members all abide by the regulatory requirements under the Gambling Act, but as a standards body we want to ensure our members set standards well above the regulatory minimum.
Why is the BGC often first to impose new restrictions before the UKGC rolls them out?
It’s more a question that our members are continually seeing areas that need improvement, or where we can make things better and then getting on with it.
Sometimes we can trial an idea and see how effective it is, but mainly we are committed to driving up standards above and beyond the regulatory requirements set by the Gambling Commission and ensuring that, for our members at least, we are best in class.
What steps has the BGC taken in the past 12 months to improve player protections?
In our first year we have already made huge strides, including a requirement for 20 per cent of all TV and radio ads to be safer gambling messaging, cooling off periods on gaming machines, encouraging deposit limits, new ID and age verification checks and massively increasing funding for research, education and treatment.
We have also introduced a new code of conduct to further prevent under-18s from seeing betting adverts online, while we have also drawn up – at the request of the Gambling Commission – a code of conduct on VIP schemes, introducing tough new rules our members must follow.
This month plays host to Safer Gambling Week 2020, where all our members come together with arcade and bingo operators to highlight the work we do all year round to promote safer gambling.
This includes window advertising of products or sporting events being removed and replaced with safer gambling posters.
What areas have you identified as posing the greatest risk to players that still need addressing?
The fact is 30 million people enjoy the occasional flutter every year, in betting shops, online or in casinos, and the vast majority enjoy themselves with no problems.
However, as the new standards body, the BGC and our members are committed to ensuring anyone who might get into difficulty is able to access the help they need quickly.
One area of work over recent months has been developing better standards across the industry for the way online games are developed, to further improve player safety.
What are you doing to address these areas and ensure players are better protected?
We now have in place a new Code of Conduct for the design of online games which our members offer.
The Code’s aim is to address concerns around player safety by ensuring that safer gambling principles are fully incorporated into the design of online games before they enter the market.
Among the major commitments included in the new Code are minimum game cycle speeds of 2.5 seconds, the ending of turbo play, which allows players to speed up games, and the scrapping of multi-slot play where a player can place multiple stakes on different games at the same time.
This is a good example of how we won’t rest on our laurels but continue to drive up standards.
What changes can players expect over the coming 6/12 months?
Our members are all committed to delivering on the Safer Gambling Commitments, which all our members are signed up to.
Through the BGC, we have working groups in place to develop those commitments further so our work over the next few months will be on delivering those.
What would you say to players that are frustrated by increasing regulatory requirements?
We want all our customers to continue to enjoy using our products in as safe and as responsible a way as possible, and the measures and requirements that are in place are aimed at helping that happen.
While millions use our products safely, we want to ensure we help anyone who might be at risk of getting into difficulties.
How do players know if an online casino is a member of the BGC?
Our members are all UK facing, and we publish a list of our members on our website. You can find the full list by clicking the link below:
Should they play at member sites over others? If so, why? What extra protections are offered?
Our members are fully regulated – unlike the illegal, online black market.
The measures set out above show the breadth of protections our members have in place, not just in terms of what is required by the Gambling Commission and the Government, but the voluntary standards we have in place.
Read our guide to gambling responsibly online.