Questions raised concerning the Gamblers Consumer Forum

By Jess Plowden, Last updated Aug 9, 2023

A group calling themselves the GCF, or Gamblers Consumer Forum, has recently appeared on the gambling scene. Their website (1) claims they were established as “a direct response to the release of the government’s Gambling White Paper and the threat it represents to both bettors and the Gambling and racing industries.”

Their tagline reads “The voice for gamblers in the UK”.

Which sounds all well and good — on the surface. When you dig a little deeper though…

The Gamblers Consumer Forum hasn’t been around for too long, so don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of them. The domain name, when you do a whois lookup on it, is shown to have only been registered three months ago, back on the 14th May 2023. Their ‘X’ (aka Twitter) social media account is even younger — created a few weeks ago in July.

So who are these crusaders fighting for the rights of the average UK punter?

According to their website, the lobby group is principally managed by the two people named and pictured on the About Us page are Andrew Woodman and Abbie MacGregor.

Even more interesting: an investigative piece (2) in The Guardian published yesterday by the journalist Rob Davies mentions that Woodman is a parliamentary assistant to an expelled Tory MP and MacGregor is a PHD student and former Conservative council candidate.

Not only that, but Davies alleges that this lobby group is actually co-owned by an individual who has a vested interest in the gambling industry, being a gambling industry consultant no less, one Stephen Donoughue.

Furthermore, Davies states that Donoughue charges a £18,000 consultation fee for operators wanting advice on how to obtain a coveted UKGC licence.

The investigating journalist also challenged the Gamblers Consumer Forum website claim that “99.6% of British adults gamble without an issue” saying that this statistic was downright wrong.

Here at Casinomeister, we caught the investigation bug and decided to check out the UK Gambling Commission’s own statistics (3) — which make for interesting reading.

And I’m afraid the rather vaguely worded 99.6% claim doesn’t hold up. Firstly, nowhere near that many people in the UK gamble — only 44% if you don’t count lottery tickets.

As for harms, the statistics just don’t support that statement. Per the UKGC’s “Gambling participation and the prevalence of problem gambling survey”, UK gamblers self-report that their gambling involves “harm to self” in a number of important categories: “lies to family” at 5.3%; “Absent from work and/or poor performance at work” at 2.8%; “Conflict with others” at 4.2%; “Uses savings and/or borrows money to gamble” at 4.6%. As you might guess, these numbers were even higher when friends and family were asked the same question.

These are not huge numbers but they’re not trivial either: 1% of the adult gamblers in the UK is roughly 200,000 people, so the Survey’s results represent a sizeable group in each of the “harm to self” categories.

Clearly, based on this information uncovered and reported on by The Guardian, the Gamblers Consumer Forum is not just some innocent grassroots interest group set-up by players with real concerns regarding how the UKGC is regulating the gambling industry in the UK.

If this journalist has gotten their facts right, then with these ties to a Tory MP, the Conservative party and a gambling industry professional, the Gamblers Consumer Forum is a group that obviously has their own interests and agenda: any statements they make about the industry are therefore highly suspect and are not to be taken at face value.

Sadly, more vested interests than grassroots it appears.


Jess Plowden

Ms. Plowden started working online in the early days of the internet cleaning the tubes and training the cats, then spent 20 years in web design. Jumping at the chance to work at Casinomeister back in 2014, she has been a happy indentured servant behind the scenes ever since.

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