The land-based gambling industry in the UK needs support, says a veteran of the adult gaming centre business.
Richard Wilson, who has spent over 60 years in the AWP industry in the UK and Europe, asserted strongly that “what the industry needs now is a proactive attitude on the part of the authorities to stave off the risks from illegal gambling by giving the legitimate business helpful direction.”
Wilson was referring to the concerns raised by bookmakers at the risk of MPs confusing the regulated industry with the black market. He supported the call for clear appreciation of the difference in the upcoming review of the UK’s gambling legislation.
He backed that with a further plea that the land-based business, in casinos and AGCs should not be subjected to “unwarranted and unnecessary draconian action on issues such as stakes and prize limits” in order to help the industry back on to its feet and to stave off the threats from unlicensed offers.
In a hard-hitting interview with InterGame, Wilson said: “We are at risk of gambling reform going crazy in this country. How is it possible that – yet again – a government in the UK wants to score an own goal during Covid?
“As people locked down at home want to continue doing their day-to-day activities, and this including gambling, the UK suddenly wants to turn them all away from regulated safe sites and on to unscrupulous unregulated and, in many cases, illegal websites abroad.
“Look at what happened in Germany when they suddenly brought in very stringent rules. They lost 80 per cent of the tax revenues in six months! Look at the US that is now legalising sports betting as fast as it can because the cat is out of the bag and players can, will and do use VPNs – as easy to download as Whatsapp!
“The UK government that has been a leader in online gambling since it introduce legislation for it in 2007 is suddenly going to undo all the hard work? At a time of crises such as Covid, with reduced tax revenues, the government should be clamouring to get every penny rather than driving it offshore.
“We built online gambling with tech titans such as bet365, Betfair, William Hill, Ladbrokes, Playtech, 888, all registered and operating from the UK and we want to push it all away after spending the past 10 years getting it back onshore?
“If the government goes ahead with destroying the existing stakes and prizes regime online, it will push players away. We will lose control our players, of our standards, of our regulation and pose a much greater risk to society. We must stop this before it’s too late and we must avoid falling into the same trap as the authorities did in Germany and the Netherlands.
“We need to keep UK gamblers playing in the UK,” he said.