A winning combination: How sport and punters are providing a boost for the nation's charities
With the Britannia Stakes around the corner, Chairman of the Betting and Gaming Council, Brigid Simmonds, explains the power of sport in raising money for worthy causes.
Sport has always had the power to do immeasurable good, and this month’s Britannia Stakes is set to showcase that enduring truth once again. Because on June 22, however the punters fare, charities are guaranteed to win big after BGC members committed all profits from the world-famous race to good causes.
This year’s Royal Ascot is particularly poignant, coming so soon after His Majesty the King’s Coronation, which was celebrated the world over. And BGC members are proud to mark this historic occasion with another charity drive, set to raise huge sums. SportsAid, whose Patron is Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales and which supports over 1,000 of Great Britain’s brightest sporting prospects each year with help towards training and competition costs, the Holocaust Educational Trust, Cystic Fibrosis Trust, the SAS Regimental Association (SASRA), Ascot Racecourse Supports and Together for Looked After Children, will all benefit from the iconic big-field heritage handicap.
Last year’s race raised a huge £1.2 million for a host of worthy causes, and even if bookmakers fail to make a profit they have agreed to make a combined donation of £250,000 to be split among this year’s nominated charities.
This is only possible thanks to the generosity of BGC members including, Flutter (Paddy Power, Betfair, Sky Bet), bet365, Entain (Ladbrokes, Coral), 888 William Hill, Kindred (Unibet), Betway, Rank Group (Grosvenor Sport), Virgin Bet, LivescoreBet, Tote, Fitzdares and Bet with Ascot. This is by no means the first time our members have displayed such generosity.
Since the BGC was established in 2019, our members have raised over £5.5 million for a range of good causes including Prostate Cancer UK, Sue Ryder, NHS Charities Together, the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity, ABF the Soldier’s Charity and the RAF Benevolent Fund.
Of course, our members are proud of the support they give this nation’s best loved sports all year round, which has been vital to securing their long-term financial health. Horseracing alone receives some £350m a year through sponsorship, media rights and the betting levy.
But it does not stop there, the English Football League and its clubs receive in excess of £40m a year while snooker, darts, boxing and rugby all receive millions more. This was vital during the pandemic, when crowds could not visit stadia to watch sports or cheer on their teams. And now those dark day are behind us, that support continues to do good, bringing investment, encouraging personal development through sport for life and securing financial stability.
This intrinsic relationship between sport and regulated betting and gaming is obviously mutually beneficial, supporting jobs with BGC members across the UK, from highstreets to highly specialised careers in technology. Betting shops alone support 42,000 jobs on the UK’s hard pressed high streets, and contribute £800 million a year in tax to the Treasury and another £60m in business rates to local councils.
Meanwhile, the entire regulated betting and gaming industry in the UK supports 110,000 jobs, generates £4.2bn in tax and contributes £7.1bn to the economy. Of course, this would not be possible if betting and gaming were not hugely popular pastimes, enjoyed safely and responsibly by the overwhelming majority.
Around 22.5m adults in the UK bet each month and we are encouraged by the latest figures from the Gambling Commission which show the rate of problem gambling among adults in the UK is 0.3 per cent. That is a small number when considering the millions who bet regularly. That does not mean our industry is complacent. Which is why I am proud a proportion of profits from our members goes towards supporting the charities that step in to help when betting does become problematic. Our biggest members have committed over £100m to support Research, Education and Treatment programmes to tackle that 0.3 per cent of adults experiencing some form of harm from gambling.
This work is ongoing, like our support to sport, and I am excited to see how the recently published White Paper on gambling reform will augment and amplify what the wider industry is already achieving by backing sport and tackling harm, as it continues to play such an important role in the economic health of this nation.
We are right to look forward to Royal Ascot and the Britannia Stakes, it will be a wonderful spectacle. And whether punters win or lose, we can all be proud of the contribution being made to such worthy charities, proving once again, sport guarantees a winner whatever the result.
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