BGC Celebrate Success of Cheltenham Festival

The Cheltenham Festival is over for another year. Four days of excellent racing, a few favourites winning, some shock wins and around half a million pounds wagered on the 28 races.

With a review of the Gambling Act on its way, Michael Dugher (CEO of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC)) believes the government should take note of what’s happened this week.

This year saw the crowds back at Cheltenham after the behind closed doors festival last year. Around 250,000 people attended the event and there weren’t many masks on sight despite increasing Covid-19 figures.

May is expected to be when UK Government finally publish what they have intended for the gambling industry. Mr Dugher says the Cheltenham Festival should be a “timely reminder” as to what they should do.

He believes that the Festival was “a joy to behold” and the record attendance on the first day “set the tone for one of the greatest Festivals ever.”

The BGC want to see people gambling responsibly and enjoying what they do. Their chief executive doesn’t want to see the government do anything “to spoil people’s enjoyment” of having a flutter. Nor does the BGC want to see any actions taken that may affect sports such horse racing and football.

The latter could well happen if as expected, the government decides to take severe action regards sponsorship of sport by gambling companies. Many of the races at Cheltenham this week were sponsored by members of the betting industry. Television coverage on ITV was sponsored by Paddy Power and broadcasts featured advertisements from other gambling companies.

Michael Dugher commented that the BGC are “committed to further raising standards for the industry and its customers. However, it’s vital punters, like the millions who enjoyed Cheltenham, make their voices heard in the Government’s gambling review.”

The UK Government say that the review of the Gambling Act 2005 has the aim of ensuring the industry has the “right balance” of objectives. While they accept that individuals have the right to gamble as a leisure activity, there is also the need to protect those who may be in danger of suffering gambling harm.

The White Paper that gives details of what the government has planned has twice been delayed. Initially it was due to be released at the end of last year. That was changed to early 2022 and now May is when the details are due to be revealed.