Whether you follow football or Formula 1, horse-racing or politics, odds on you can bet on it. The UK’s gambling and betting industry is a historic, lucrative yet controversial business. Mace’s Gambling Index studies the form of the sector’s top runners and riders.
Gambling is a trump part of the UK economy, paying over £3.2 billion in taxes and employing over 100,000 people. While everyone loves a flutter, the industry is facing greater regulation, with the government minded to make some significant amendments to the 2005 Gambling Act. Over the last decade, gambling-related harm has gradually shuffled up the political agenda, largely through the work of charitable groups and increased medical recognition of gambling addiction. The biggest game at the moment is the Gambling Commission’s “major and wide-ranging” review which is considering limits on online stakes, restrictions on advertising and banning football sponsorships.
Along with the Commission’s work, the Betting & Gaming Council, led by former MP Michael Dugher, is also pushing reforms. Ian Proctor, CEO of Flutter, which owns the Paddy Power and Betfair brands, admits that “historically we haven’t done enough” and has introduced a new credit card ban and increased customer protections. Similarly, Grainne Hurst, who leads on corporate affairs for sports betting and gaming group, Entain, has announced the business’s new vision for reduction of harms. Hurst’s belief that “gambling isn’t the problem – problem gambling is the problem” reflects the attitude of most of the sector’s top players. Dugher, Proctor and Hurst all feature in Mace’s Index.
With the gambling industry facing such high stakes, some surprising partnerships have emerged – perhaps none more so than multi-millionaire casino entrepreneur, Derek Webb, and ex-gambling addict, Matt Zarb-Cousin who, through the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, scored a huge win influencing the government to lower the stake levels on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) from £100 down to £2.