‘The government’s feet should be held to the fire’

 

Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) chief executive Michael Dugher has called for the UK government to adhere to its promise of frictionless financial checks on gamblers and not increase their intrusiveness.

On Thursday, the government unveiled a gambling white paper, which included proposals for “background checks” at thresholds of £125 in net losses per month or £500 per year, with enhanced checks set at £1,000 in losses in 24 hours or £2,000 in 90 days.

The government estimated that only 3% of customers would face more detailed checks, with these conducted via credit reference agencies or open banking. Requests for documents would be a last resort.

Dugher admitted gamblers were likely to be anxious about the changes, however.

“It’s okay for the government to say only a minority of customers will be impacted by this. Unfortunately Racing Post readers fear they are in that minority and the government is talking about them.

“We need to hold government’s feet to the fire when we take this forward that this genuinely means no disruption to the customer experience, that documents are only ever going to be a last resort, that this frictionless system should replace the need for documents and there shouldn’t be spending caps. This shouldn’t be intrusive.

“It’s not for me to do the government’s job for it in explaining its own proposals but I do think the government needs to do a better job in explaining its own proposals. I think this is a good white paper but terrible presentation and I fear the government is in danger of losing the argument with racing punters.”

The white paper revealed that British racing could see its income from the levy, media rights and sponsorship fall by up to £14.9m per year as a result of the proposed checks.

Dugher said: “Racing is undoubtedly going to take a hit here, as we have consistently warned. I think that is regrettable. One of the issues around this is the extent to which racing is being listened to by the politicians. What I would like to see is racing continue to work with us in the months ahead because there is a symbiotic relationship between betting and racing and I think we need to work very closely together on the shared challenges that we face in terms of the future of the sport.”

The government also stated that it was reviewing the levy, considering whether to extend it to overseas races, increase its contribution and convert it to a turnover-based model from gross profits.

Dugher said: “We will work closely with racing on levy reform but it is not the panacea that some people think it is. This great sport of ours faces huge challenges. So I think there needs to be a fundamental look at what we can do together to improve the long-term financial health of the sport.”

Dugher criticised the white paper’s tone, stating that he was unhappy with culture secretary Lucy Frazer’s assertion that “the temptation to gamble is now everywhere in society”.

“I am not sure how responsible it was to indulge in some of the moral alarmism that we had around the white paper,” he said, “echoes of the religious right with talk about temptation is everywhere. Occasionally politicians do themselves no favours and can reveal just how out of touch they are.”

He added: “There could also have been more acknowledgement of the economic contribution the industry makes. The secretary of state said we pay millions in tax – well we actually we pay billions in tax. There are 110,000 people in this country whose jobs depend on the betting industry and there was not a single word in the secretary of state’s statement to acknowledge that.”

Ian Proctor, chair of the UK & Ireland division of Flutter Entertainment, which owns Paddy Power, Betfair and Sky Bet, agreed with Dugher’s concerns.

He said: “Somewhere lost in all of this is that there are millions of people who enjoy doing this, this is our fun and I think that balance didn’t really come out yesterday. There are millions of people who have a bet every weekend and it’s really key that we make sure that whatever we do next that we are not interfering with people’s enjoyment in life, that’s really important.”

The white paper also suggested that £29m in reserves held by the Levy Board could be used to offset racing’s financial losses while the levy was under review, but the British Horseracing Authority objected that this was not an appropriate use of the funds.

Levy Board chief executive Alan Delmonte said: “We will be holding discussions with DCMS on the white paper, the projections of its financial impact and on the levy review process. The board will consider everything in the round first when it takes decisions in June about expenditure for the rest of 2023, and then later in the year for 2024.”

 

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The UK government’s white paper on gambling regulation, released in 2020, is a mixed bag of proposals that aim to protect vulnerable individuals while safeguarding the rights of responsible gamblers. While some recommendations are proportionate, others are unclear and vague, and the paper has been criticised for attempting to have its cake and eat it too.

One area of contention is affordability checks, which have been a subject of debate for months. Ordinary bettors dislike these checks, which they see as intrusive and an infringement on personal spending decisions. The racing industry has also expressed concerns that these checks could drive responsible punters away and cause a drop in revenue for the sport.

The white paper includes two tiers of affordability checks. The first tier, called a ‘financial vulnerability check’, is triggered by a loss of £125 a month or £500 a year and includes open-source background checks. The second tier, called ‘enhanced spending checks’, is triggered by a loss of £1,000 in a 24-hour period or £2,000 over 90 days and includes credit reference agency checks. However, the details of how these checks will work in practice remain unclear, and bookmakers may interpret the results inconsistently.

The white paper focuses on online betting, but it is unclear what will happen to bricks and mortar bookies, which have already been conducting affordability checks for months. Additionally, the paper raises questions about implementation and interpretation, leaving many frustrated and uncertain.

While the outcome of the review will likely be a more restrictive regulatory environment for punters, it is not the ruinous fate that anti-betting campaigners sought. However, bookmakers must reflect on their mistakes and use this moment as a watershed, ensuring that the excesses of the past are consigned to history. Racing must also value its core customer, the punter, and defend their interests if it wants to preserve the vital source of revenue that betting provides.

The white paper is not the end of the matter, as the right to bet will continue to come under scrutiny in the years ahead. The fundamental question of whether the state is justified in interfering in how people spend their own money remains unanswered.

 

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On Thursday, the UK government released its long-awaited gambling white paper, outlining proposals for reform in the industry. However, concerns have been raised by the British racing governing body, the BHA, about the effectiveness of the proposed financial risk checks.

The measures include background checks for issues such as county court judgements at a £125 net loss within a month or £500 within a year. A second tier of checks, which might indicate harmful binge gambling or sustained unaffordable losses, would come in at proposed thresholds of a £1,000 net loss within 24 hours or £2,000 within 90 days.

Ministers have claimed that the checks would be “frictionless” and conducted online by credit reference agencies or through other means such as open banking, with documentation asked for as a last resort. The government claimed that around eight in ten players would not undergo the checks, and only around three per cent of the highest-spending accounts would have more detailed checks.

Speaking after the white paper was released, BHA chief executive Julie Harrington expressed concerns about how unobtrusive and friction-free the checks would be. Harrington said the sport would do its own due diligence to see if the three per cent of punters subject to more detailed checks would be mirrored among racing’s customers.

She said: “In terms of the impact, the numbers around £1,000 and £2,000 are probably as we anticipated. The number around the less-intrusive checks of £125 is much lower.”

She added: “The big unknown for us at the moment is how unobtrusive and friction-free those checks are.”

Harrington said the sport would do its own due diligence to see if the three per cent of punters subject to more detailed checks would be mirrored among racing’s customers.

She added: “Our suspicion is that there will be a higher value punter in there so we would be more impacted than the average.”

The subject of affordability checks has been one of the most controversial aspects of the government’s gambling review, with campaigners having called for punters to have to prove they could afford gambling losses of as low as £100 a month. British racing’s leadership has warned that blanket affordability checks would be “highly damaging” to its finances.

Other proposals contained in the white paper include a statutory levy on gambling operators to help fund treatment services and research of problem gambling. The Gambling Commission will receive extra powers to tackle black market operators, and a new industry ombudsman will be created to deal with disputes and rule on redress where a customer suffers losses due to an operator failing in their player protection duties.

New stake limits for online slots games of between £2 and £15 per spin will be brought in to mirror those found in bricks-and-mortar premises. The stakes had previously been unlimited.

However, campaigners who had hoped for bans on gambling advertising and sponsorship in sport will have been left disappointed. The government launched its gambling review in December 2020 with a call for evidence, which resulted in 16,000 responses.

The BHA has warned that blanket affordability checks would be “highly damaging” to its finances, while Arena Racing Company estimated last year that the sport was losing £40 million per annum from checks already put in place by bookmakers involving requests for personal financial information such as bank statements.

The government also revealed that a review of the levy, British racing’s central funding system, had commenced. It had originally been set to happen by 2024.

It had been expected that the government would set the rate at one per cent of the industry’s gross profits, which could raise as much as £140 million. However, the rate will be subject to further consultation.

Announcing the government’s proposals, culture secretary Lucy Frazer said: “We live in an age where people have a virtual mobile casino in their pockets. It has made gambling easier, quicker and often more fun, but when things go wrong it can see people lose thousands of pounds in a few swipes of the screen.

“So we are stepping in to update the law for those most at risk of harm with a new levy on gambling operators to pay for treatment and education, player protection checks and new online slots stake limits.

“This will strengthen the safety net and help deliver our long-term plan to help build stronger communities while allowing millions of people to continue to play safely.”

Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, said he welcomed the publication of the white paper.

Dugher said: “We need time to consider the full detail and impacts of these proposals, but it is important to recognise the BGC has worked closely with government to deliver a wide-ranging package of balanced, proportionate and effective reforms.”

He added: “Our members generate £7.1 billion for the economy and raise £4.2 billion in tax every year, and the measures announced today should protect jobs and sustain that vital contribution, while also building on our own work to drive world-leading standards in safer gambling.”

Gambling review white paper: the main proposals

 

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Affordability

The white paper proposes two thresholds for conducting affordability checks. The first threshold is called the “moderate loss threshold,” which involves checking for financial vulnerability indicators, such as county court judgements, average postcode affluence, and bankruptcies, if a net loss of £125 occurs within a rolling month period or £500 within a rolling year period. The second threshold is triggered by “binge gambling,” which involves a net loss of £1,000 within a 24-hour period and requires an “enhanced spending check.” The Gambling Commission is working with the financial services sector to determine the mechanics of this check, which is expected to involve credit reference agencies and only raise concerns if necessary. However, if frictionless checks fail to provide sufficient information, data may need to be collected directly from the customer.

The Gambling Commission plans to consult on the proposed thresholds, including a £2,000 net loss threshold within a 90-day period that triggers the same checks as a £1,000 net loss in a 24-hour period. The proposed thresholds are less strict than the previously proposed £100 loss limit and hard checks.

According to the white paper, 20% of accounts would be subject to a financial vulnerability assessment, and about 3% of accounts would be subject to an enhanced check. The government expects credit reference agencies to conduct the financial vulnerability assessments in a “frictionless” manner, and 80% of the enhanced checks can also be handled in this way. The remaining 20% of cases will require further checks, with half of them being “semi-agreeable checks,” such as open banking, and the other half being “disagreeable checks,” such as requests for bank statements or payslips.

The Racing Post’s Big Punting Survey found that one in six respondents had already been asked to undergo an affordability check. While the white paper claims that the proposed checks will be “frictionless,” the precise mechanics of how they will work have not been fully determined, potentially leading to higher-staking bettors receiving requests for sensitive financial information.

Levy Reform

The white paper discusses levy reform and states that the government recognises the value of the racing industry and has already begun reviewing the central funding system, with the goal of completing it by 2024. The government estimates that the proposed financial risk protections for online betting on racing could lead to a six to 11 percent reduction in levy yield, resulting in a total income drop of 0.5 to 1 percent (£8.4-14.9m) for the racing industry. In response to representations from the industry, the government is considering extending the levy to all international racing bets made by British customers and changing it to a percentage of turnover, rather than profits.

While the commitment to levy reform is not new, the industry will appreciate the government’s acknowledgement of the sport’s cultural and economic importance, as well as the proposed extension of the levy and adjustment to a percentage of turnover, which could lead to more stable yields. However, these proposals may only offset the expected reduction in yields from other measures outlined in the white paper, and the government suggests that Levy Board reserves may need to be used to address any funding gaps the industry may face in the meantime.

Free Bets

The white paper addresses the issue of free bets and the need for clear rules and fair limits on their design and targeting to prevent excessive or harmful gambling. The Gambling Commission has already strengthened restrictions on online VIP schemes and introduced rules to prevent marketing targeted at people showing significant indicators of harm. The Commission will now review the use of incentives such as free bets and bonuses.

The white paper cites a Commission survey showing that a significant number of respondents believed that free bets and bonus offers encouraged them to gamble more than they wanted to. However, the evidence on the correlation between these incentives and harm is limited, and the government is calling for a greater evidence base.

The white paper also notes that re-wagering requirements for free bets are often set at high thresholds, and funds and winnings can expire after a short time, creating a sense of urgency to gamble. The Commission will consult on caps for wagering requirements and minimum time limits before offers expire.

Advertising

The white paper outlines the Gambling Commission’s plans to consult on measures to give bettors more control over the types of marketing they receive, such as the need to opt in for bonuses. The use of technology by betting operators to target ads away from children and vulnerable people will also be encouraged, and there will be an emphasis on stronger messaging regarding the risks associated with gambling. Additionally, the government plans to work with governing bodies in the sector to develop a cross-sport gambling sponsorship code.

While some may be disappointed that the measures fall short of a complete ban on gambling advertising and sponsorship, the government’s aim is to place incentives such as free bets and bonuses in the hands of the punters. By requiring opt-ins, individuals who are more vulnerable to gambling-related harm are given greater protection against receiving incentives they may find difficult to resist. Further campaigning may still focus on a complete ban on gambling advertising and sponsorship.

Single Customer View

The white paper highlights the start of a live trial for a Single Customer View (SCV) system, aimed at preventing customers from losing unaffordable sums by sharing information across different gambling operators. The trial, which began this month with the help of GamStop, is focused on high-risk gamblers, with codes of practice being developed to assess whether the SCV system is identifying the right people and appropriate measures are being taken by bookmakers.

The government’s stance on the SCV system is clear – it expects the industry to deliver on this solution. However, the white paper indicates that the government and the Gambling Commission may reject the trial if they are not satisfied with its results and create their own alternative. The possibility of a further consultation before full implementation is also suggested.

The proposal for a national database of gamblers has been rejected due to privacy implications for the majority who gamble without any adverse effects. This acknowledges the fact that many punters may not want their data to be shared.

Statutory Levy

The white paper announces the government’s plan to introduce a mandatory statutory levy to be paid by gambling operators and collected and distributed by the Gambling Commission. The levy will fund research, education, and treatment of gambling harms, and a consultation will be launched to determine the details of its design, including the total amount to be raised and how it will be proportionately and fairly constructed.

Although the power to create such a levy has existed since 2005, the government notes that no previous administration has used it, and the industry has provided financial support on a voluntary basis. However, the government now believes that a mandatory levy is necessary for long-term funding certainty, despite opposition from the betting industry. The Gambling Commission will also have an enhanced role in directly commissioning research to inform regulation, and efforts will be made to stimulate independent research in the area of gambling.

 

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After several delays, the UK government’s gambling white paper is set to be published today.

The paper will outline proposals to modernise the regulation of the gambling sector to fit the digital age. It will reportedly include a review of British racing’s levy system and plans for affordability checks on gamblers. The government launched its gambling review in December 2020 but ministerial changes have caused repeated delays to the publication of the white paper.

The review is expected to include measures such as a reduction in stakes for online slot games to match those found in land-based gambling, the creation of a gambling ombudsman to deal with customer complaints, and a statutory levy on gambling operators to pay for research, education, and treatment of problem gambling.

Of particular interest to the racing industry is what the white paper will contain on the controversial subject of affordability checks. The industry’s leadership believes that these checks are already costing the sport tens of millions of pounds in revenue due to requests for personal financial information from customers such as bank statements. However, recent press reports suggest that the proposals will be less intrusive and more akin to credit checks.

The Premier League’s recent announcement of a voluntary ban on gambling sponsorship from the front of matchday shirts means that stringent measures such as a ban on gambling advertising and sponsorship are not expected to be included in the white paper. The Premier League has also said that it is working with other sports on the development of a new gambling sponsorship code, which could be among the proposals.

 

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According to a report in The Sun, the government’s long-awaited gambling review white paper is set to include proposals for levy reform. The levy, which is currently based on a percentage of bookmaker profits on British racing and yielded £97.6 million in 2021-22, is due to be reviewed by 2024. However, sport’s leadership has been calling for the review to be brought forward and for the levy system to be reformed to extend its reach to betting on all global racing as well as adjusting it to be based on turnover rather than profits to boost income.

The Sun report also stated that betting on horseracing is set to face higher taxes under the new review to ensure proper funding for the sport. The government launched the gambling review in December 2020, and the resulting white paper is expected to be published after parliament returns from the Easter recess on April 17.

The white paper is also expected to include measures such as affordability checks, with operators set to carry out “credit checks” alongside duties to look for signs of unaffordable losses. It is also reported that people under 25 would be unable to gamble more than £2 per spin on online slots, although older punters would be allowed to stake up to £15, a higher figure than expected. Other measures include a statutory levy on operators to pay for problem gambling research, education and treatment, and the creation of a gambling ombudsman to deal with customer complaints.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer is quoted as saying that the proposals are “targeted to protect people who are at risk of addiction, catastrophic loss and harm, with minimal disruption to the majority.” However, a spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport refused to comment on the report, stating that the government is determined to protect those most at risk of gambling-related harm and is working to finalize the details of the review.

Meanwhile, Conservative MP Scott Benton has had the party whip withdrawn following a sting by The Times newspaper in which he was filmed offering to lobby ministers on behalf of fake gambling industry investors who had offered him a fee of up to £4,000. The Times reported that Benton had told undercover reporters he could leak a copy of the gambling white paper before it was published. Benton is the chair of the Parliamentary All-Party Betting and Gaming Group, although such groups are informal and have no official status in parliament.

The government’s gambling review has been eagerly anticipated by the industry, with calls for reform growing in recent years due to concerns over problem gambling and the impact of gambling advertising. The introduction of tighter regulations and increased taxation could have significant implications for the industry, particularly for online operators who have seen a surge in business during the pandemic.

Overall, the government’s proposals for gambling reform are expected to be far-reaching, with a focus on protecting vulnerable individuals and addressing the wider social and economic impact of gambling. The extent to which these proposals are implemented remains to be seen, but the industry will be watching closely as the white paper is finally published.

 

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Flight to the black market ‘almost inevitable’ with affordability checks.

After the Racing Post revealed that one in six respondents to a major survey reported being asked by a bookmaker for their financial documents, the scale of affordability checks on racing bettors has been described as “surprising and disproportionate” by a leading industry analyst.

Given the extent to which bettors are being impacted by the intrusive and unpopular checks, Regulus Partners’ Dan Waugh also stated that the migration of punters with higher stakes to operators operating on the black market was “almost inevitable.” Regulus recently estimated that 20% of UK racing turnover has already shifted to the black market, resulting in a loss of £80 million annually in betting revenue.

More than 10,000 people responded to The Racing Post’s Big Punting Survey, which asked about a wide range of topics affecting racing bettors in Britain and Ireland. 16.6% said they had already been asked to provide pay stubs, bank statements, and other forms of documentation proving they could afford to bet.

Waugh, a consultant on gambling regulation and safer gambling who has frequently testified before parliamentary select committees, compared the scale of gambling-related harm to the prevalence of affordability checks highlighted in the survey.

“The problem gambling rate for people who bet on sport online is microscopic if they are not also doing online casinos or products like that,” said Waugh. “Horseracing has a lower problem gambling rate within sports betting than some other products.

“I think that 16 per cent of readers being asked for documents is surprising, even though readers of the Racing Post are more engaged in betting than general sports bettors. It does seem to be that a disproportionate percentage of racing bettors are being caught by these checks, given what we know from health surveys about the risks.”

In addition, the survey revealed that 3.6% of respondents knew someone who had used a black market bookmaker in the previous 12 months. Segmented data suggested that younger people and bettors with larger stakes were more likely to use illegal websites and products without licenses.

Waugh emphasised the dangers of losing higher-stakes bettors to the regulated market, which would have a negative impact on racing’s finances and cost the UK Treasury tax revenue.

“If you take the view that the Gambling Commission has been putting pressure on licensees to conduct affordability checks at relatively low levels of expenditure, then higher-staking customers are caught by that,” said Waugh. “I think it’s almost inevitable that higher-staking customers have greater incentives to go to unlicensed operators.

“Affordability checks are not the only reason; unlicensed operators don’t pay taxes and might be able to offer more generous inducements. But if you look at things that are changing then it seems highly plausible that higher-stakes customers are more likely to seek out unlicensed providers.”

The BHA on Thursday welcomed the Post’s survey as “an important piece of research that demonstrates the impact certain measures can have and the risks they pose to racing”.

Throughout the lengthy Gambling Act review process, the racing governing body has consistently made representations to the government, advising that affordability checks will drain the sport’s financial resources.

In a video address to the Thoroughbred Industry Employment Awards in York on Monday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak praised racing’s economic and cultural impact on Britain. The British Horseracing Association (BHA) said that the Big Punting Survey presented yet another persuasive argument that should be taken into consideration by policymakers before the white paper is released.

A BHA spokesperson said: “The BHA has engaged extensively with UK government ministers and officials, as well as the Gambling Commission, setting out the unique relationship between racing and betting and seeking to reduce the risk of damaging, unintended consequences arising from this review for betting customers and the industry. We do not support blanket measures on affordability and believe that if measures are to be introduced, they should be proportionate, targeted at the individual and reflect their specific circumstances.

“This is an important piece of research that demonstrates the impact certain measures can have and the risks these pose to racing. We will strongly encourage government and policymakers to take this data on board as part of the Gambling Act review, which needs to be concluded as soon as possible.”

 

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Sports minister Stuart Andrew to take on gambling brief.

As the government’s gambling white paper waits, sports minister Stuart Andrew will assume the role of gambling minister.

The MP for Pudsey, Horsforth, and Aireborough in West Yorkshire, Andrew, is expected to succeed Paul Scully in the position. He will become the sixth minister in charge of the white paper since the government began its review of gambling legislation in December 2020.

Andrew, who started working for the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) in September, hasn’t talked much about horse racing or gambling.

However, he was criticised for paying Paddy Power £1,961 to host England’s 2-0 victory over Germany at the most recent European Championships at Wembley Stadium in 2021.

There have been numerous delays in the government’s gambling reform proposals, which are expected to include details about their plans for the contentious issue of affordability checks.

The most recent occurred this month when, as part of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s reorganisation, Scully was transferred to a different department.

Leadership in the racing and gambling industries, where he had been willing to listen to their concerns, saw his departure as a blow.

As part of the most recent reshuffle, the former culture secretary Michelle Donelan also left the DCMS to be replaced by Lucy Frazer, whose South East Cambridgeshire constituency includes the July course at Newmarket and the National Stud.

The DCMS has yet to officially confirm Andrew’s appointment, but it would allow the publication process for the white paper to resume, with officials hoping it will be available before the Easter break at the end of March.

A statutory levy on operators to fund research, education, and treatment of problem gambling, advertising and sponsorship by gambling companies, and lower stakes for online slot games to mirror those found in brick-and-mortar establishments are expected to be covered in the white paper in addition to affordability checks.

 

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‘An open goal for illegal bookmakers’ – integrity expert warns on affordability checks.

A senior executive of the Hong Kong Jockey Club who is well-versed in illegal betting has informed a global audience of racing leaders that affordability checks are providing black market bookmakers with a priceless open goal.

An Asian Racing Conference session in Melbourne featured a presentation by the HKJC’s executive manager of racing integrity and betting analysis, Tom Chignell, who discussed the unstoppable expansion of unregulated operators and their growing desire to attract racing punters.

Chignell made a direct connection between the intrusive bookmaker-imposed checks that are driving punters away from the regulated market and eating into the finances of British racing after his HKJC colleague Doug Robinson warned that illegal betting, which is frequently linked to wider crime and money laundering, represented “the number one threat to the integrity of racing.”

A member of the Asian Racing Federation Council on Anti-Illegal Betting and Related Financial Crime, Chignell stated: It seems to be a huge problem right now in the UK, in my opinion. Not only are affordability checks driving recreational gamblers away from regulated businesses, but they are also almost directly driving them to the illegal betting market.

“Can you get a bet on? Can you get fair odds? Can you bet on the sport and product you want to bet on? If you can’t, these are three major incentives to push the customers racing wants to attract – the Saturday gamblers to the illegal betting market.”

Hundreds of punters have complained to the Racing Post about being asked to hand over a slew of personal financial information to bookmakers, who have repeatedly lowered the bar at which checks are initiated out of fear of being fined by the Gambling Commission, despite repeated delays to the publication of the UK government’s white paper on gambling reform.

Racecourse Media Group revealed on Sunday that a survey of 3,500 Racing TV members found that 15% of respondents either bet or know someone who bets with an unlicensed firm. The regulator has attempted to downplay the extent to which frustrated punters are turning to the black market.

Chignell added: “The concern is that while Britain has had a diverse regulated market, and although people have sometimes struggled to get bets on with bookmakers because they have been successful and therefore had to spread money across the regulated market, you now have reports of people in betting shops being asked for financial information like three months of bank statements. People don’t want to do that, which means this is a real opportunity for the illegal market to target those individuals.

“When the last Asian Racing Conference took place in South Africa three years ago, there were a few smaller operators who had started offering fixed odds on horseracing. That number is growing and we are now seeing more significant Asian-facing companies doing it. Those companies are being given an open goal to make inroads into what was a regulated market.”

 

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Clueless Gambling Commission treating us with contempt.

Last weekend, the Gambling Commission CEO made a case in these pages that was welcomed with suspicion and shock by those acquainted with the association’s work: he guaranteed it was “nonsense” to say the meddlesome reasonableness checks scourging punters and causing serious harm to dashing’s incomes were crafted by the wagering controller.

Andrew Rhodes’ reasoning for making that guarantee was that the controller has not expressly commanded that bookmakers ought to request pay slips, bank proclamations and assessment forms from their clients.

However, he surrendered, the Gambling Commission had made it clear to bookmakers they should have “proportionate thresholds” for wagering movement above which firms are supposed to consider clients’ monetary conditions and their capacity to ‘manage’ their wagering. Inability to do so could bring about immense fines for bookmakers, or even the deficiency of their permit.

How firms fulfil this administrative prerequisite, Rhodes expressed, ultimately depended on them. Yet, by what other means are bookmakers expected to think about their clients’ individual monetary conditions, besides by asking bettors for pay slips, bank proclamations and government forms?

The circumstance is compounded in light of the fact that the Gambling Commission won’t characterise what those “proportionate thresholds” should seem to be, liking rather some vague waffle about “average available income” and the differentiation among “disposable” and “discretionary” pay. Bookmakers, got between the stone and a hard spot of swingeing disciplines and unimaginably unclear rules, have justifiably applied the preparatory standard, meaning huge number of common, mindful punters have previously been up to speed in moderateness checks.

It is much the same as the German police pronouncing that anybody viewed as driving “too fast” on the expressway will be hit by huge fines and potentially lose their permit, declining to explain what “excessively quick” signifies, and afterward, when the organisation eases back to a creep in light of the fact that the streets are loaded with anxious Teutonic drivers whistling along at 20mph, saying, ‘Well, we haven’t imposed any speed limits, so it’s nothing to do with us’.

In the event that the Gambling Commission truly doesn’t think reasonableness checks are the result of its own guideline, then it is careless in regards to the undeniable outcomes of its rules. If – as appears to be more probable – it is guaranteeing blamelessness on reasonableness checks since it perceives how disputable they are and wishes to keep away from examination, then it is disparaging bettors and deceiving the two purchasers and the political bosses to whom it evidently replies.

As per a Dashing television study delivered last week, in excess of a fifth of hustling bettors have proactively been approached to supply individual records like payslips and bank proclamations, and the trepidation presently is the following month’s Cheltenham Celebration will demonstrate a seismic second in this adventure for every one of some unacceptable reasons. Numerous punters whose wagering action the remainder of the year is under the bookmakers’ current “proportionate thresholds” are responsible to be hit with requests for monetary archives, just on the grounds that for multi week of the year they essentially increment their wagering spending plan.

While at most bookmakers these limits stay dark, we know that at 888, proprietor of William Slope, the reasonableness check bar has been set at £500. This is an aggregate numerous sporting punters would see as a moderate bank for the celebration, yet, at certain bookies, it will be sufficient to create freezes on action until delicate monetary reports are given.

The frenzy of that figure is featured by the reality simply going to the celebration would be considered possibly ‘unaffordable’ on a similar premise. At the hour of composing, a three-star lodging around on the premiere night of Cheltenham will hamper you more than £400. A Tattersalls ticket for the Tuesday is £72. Toss in food, beverages and transport, and you’re taking a gander at near £600 for the afternoon. Is the Chief Hotel going to begin requesting bank explanations at registration?

Ludicrous and hostile individuals endeavouring to store two or three hundred quid with a bookmaker one month from now will be treated like they are unequipped for making the most minor of monetary exchanges without the nannying oversight of a bookmaker’s consistence administrator, however be under no deceptions: this is what is going on definitely made by the Gambling Commission’s overweening and misguided guideline.

The commission’s refusal to try and just let it out is the engineer of moderateness checks demonstrates the reality of the circumstance confronting hustling and bettors. The main genuine type of plan of action, and the main expectation that the wild controller can be halted before disastrous harm is finished to dashing, is for the public authority to step in. However the possibility of that event, which appeared to be generally certain only half a month prior while the betting pastor Paul Scully proclaimed it was not the controller’s responsibility to figure out what individuals can stand to spend on betting, has now subsided.

Scully has been reshuffled, having been in the gig for under four months. His replacement – who over seven days after the fact has still not been selected – will be the 6th priest since the gambling survey, which we trust will give lucidity about what is and isn’t normal from bookmakers, was declared in 2020.

Obviously, betting change isn’t close to the highest point of state head Rishi Sunak’s need list. Yet, on the off chance that the political class doesn’t mind a lot of whether your freedoms are diminished by a controller, or that the blow-back is a centuries-old game cherished by millions and an effective rustic industry, what lawmakers without a doubt really do think often about is votes.

Fortunately, Racecourse Media Gathering, the racecourse-claimed parent organisation of Dashing television, has recently sent off a letter-composing effort that empowers bettors to rapidly and effectively alert their nearby MP to their interests about reasonableness checks and the Gambling Commission’s way of behaving. You can sign the letter by following this connection. Assuming that you care about your privileges, or the eventual fate of hustling, I ask you to do as such before it is past the point of no return.

 

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