Nick Rust welcomes Lords report's recognition of ties between racing and betting
British racing's governing body has welcomed a major parliamentary report into the gambling industry which recognised the "special position" of the sport's relationship with the sector.
BHA chief executive Nick Rust was responding to a report published on Thursday by the House of Lords Gambling Industry Committee which urged the government to take action on a number of issues, including recommending restrictions on gambling advertising and sponsorship, a mandatory levy on the industry to fund action against problem gambling and stringent affordability checks.
However, the report exempted both horse and greyhound racing from recommendations that gambling operators should no longer be allowed to advertise on the shirts of sports teams and that there should also be no gambling advertising in or near any sports grounds or venues.
Rust said the BHA would "carefully analyse" the report and its recommendations in full.
He added: "The inquiry’s recognition of the 'special position' of our sport's relationship with betting, in particular regarding gambling advertising and the importance of the horserace betting levy, demonstrates that the committee has carefully considered and accepted many of the points advocated by British racing in our evidence.
"This report – and indeed [committee chair] Lord Grade's excellent letter to the Racing Post this morning – provide an important contribution to the ongoing debate ahead of the government's forthcoming Gambling Act review, and demonstrates how British racing must continue to engage proactively while being prepared to ask difficult questions of itself on the issues of responsible gambling and regulation."
Ladbrokes Coral's owner GVC Holdings welcomed the call for an urgent review of gambling in the report but has expressed concern about lack of public awareness of the industry's player protection measures.
GVC chief executive Kenny Alexander said the report was a "thoughtful and measured contribution to the debate".
The operator also issued the findings of polling carried out by the CT Group which showed broad support for gambling among the British public.
The survey of 2,000 people found that 69 per cent of those polled participated in some form of gambling and 60 per cent believed in freedom of choice for individuals to decide how and when they gamble.
However, only eight per cent of non-gamblers were "definitely aware" of industry safer gambling measures.
Alexander said GVC had already adopted a number of the measures recommended in the Lords report and there were others they wanted to see implemented across the industry, but spoke of his concern over awareness of safer gambling tools.
He added: "We have to do a better job of communicating that, because those who are implacably opposed to gambling as a matter of principle are actively seeking to damage the industry through onerous regulation, which will ultimately drive customers into the hands of the unregulated black market."
The findings of the Lords' investigation follow hot on the heels of reports by the Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group (GRH APPG) and the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, which both called for ministers to take urgent action over gambling.
The GRH APPG chair Carolyn Harris MP welcomed the Lords' report, and said: "The government must immediately bring forward proposals for a gambling review. It must overhaul the Gambling Commission and make gambling reform a priority.
"The absence of action from this government is not good enough while all around them are calling out the problem."
A spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: "We are absolutely committed to protecting people from the risks of gambling-related harm and have been clear that we will review the Gambling Act to ensure it is fit for the digital age."
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