SBC News BHA: UKGC must ensure a genuine pilot on affordability checks

BHA: UKGC must ensure a genuine pilot on affordability checks

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) will persist in advocating for the government to comprehensively evaluate the implementation of financial risk checks on UK gambling customers. 

The demand was underscored by BHA CEO, Julie Harrington, following Monday’s parliamentary debate concerning affordability checks, as proposed by the Gambling Review’s White Paper – a discussion tabled by UK Racing stakeholders.

MPs were implored to abandon the UK Gambling Commission’s (UKGC) endorsed plans to adopt mandatory affordability checks on player accounts that experience a net loss of £125 a month or £500 per year, and establish a further threshold for accounts that incur losses exceeding £1,000 within 24 hours or £2,000 within 90 days.

UK Racing voiced its apprehensions on Monday, asserting that such checks could potentially deplete its finances by up to £50m annually over the ensuing five years, consequently precipitating substantial job losses in rural areas.

Harrington emphasised the importance of MPs receiving adequate time in parliament to meticulously scrutinise the government’s proposals, noting the encouraging turnout at the Westminster Hall debate: “From MPs across all parties and perspectives, there was unanimous acknowledgment of the necessity for the government to defend and bolster British racing amid the reassessment of gambling legislation.”

MPs, including Matt Hancock and Philip Davies, unequivocally opposed the affordability checks recommended by the Gambling Commission, deeming them completely unacceptable.

Nonetheless, the debate culminated with Stuart Andrew, DCMS undersecretary, affirming that the UKGC will forge ahead with its pilot scheme to evaluate the proposed affordability check thresholds on a selection of operators over a 4-to-6-month period.

The DCMS insists on the Gambling Commission’s authority to initiate tests on affordability checks, having considered feedback from 2,000 responses on the application of its system.

Harrington concluded with an affirmation of the parliamentary engagement: “Many MPs contributed significantly to the debate, and we trust that Sports Minister Stuart Andrew was attentive to the opinions shared. We are heartened by Minister Andrew’s decision to exclude job titles and postcodes from the criteria for intensified spending checks and his confirmation that these modifications will, at the very least, undergo a legitimate pilot phase.

“We remain resolute in conveying to the government’s core the necessity of a judicious appraisal of the impact that these checks will have on both our industry and racing bettors. We anticipate continued dialogue on this critical matter for British racing with the Gambling Commission and the DCMS.

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