Ian Proctor, Chairman of Flutter Entertainment, the bookmaking holding company behind Paddy Power and Betfair, has released a statement concerning the ongoing review of the 2005 Gambling Act.
In the statement, Proctor acknowledged that: “Gambling has gone through a technical transformation over the last 15 years, and the rules have not kept pace.”
The main focus of Proctor’s statement concerned the issue of affordability, which has played a central role in the ongoing debate between betting operators and the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) as the review of the 2005 Gambling Act continues.
“Getting to the right answer on affordability is complex and not without some knotty ethical issues,” the operator continued.
“It requires finding a critical balance which allows us to protect the most vulnerable from potential harm without disproportionately impinging on the personal freedom of the vast majority of the 30 million people who enjoy a gamble in the UK every year.
“In essence, it is about looking at financial vulnerability in combination with a range of factors, to prevent harm.”
With regards to the affordability question, Flutter has developed a new framework, the ‘Affordability Triple Step,’ which outlines three layers of protection ‘ensure we can step in and protect the most vulnerable’.
The first step in the new framework begins at registration, where the bookmaker will ‘apply appropriate spend limits for customers with financial red flags.’
Data will be utilised in this first stage in the risk-based affordability approach, ensuring some customers do not face ‘unnecessary barriers’ whilst others will benefit from established spending limits.
As 30 million people in the UK gamble every year, the Chairman believes that an assessment of affordability checks must strike a ‘critical balance’ between protecting the vulnerable without infringing on the ‘personal freedom of the vast majority’.
Secondly, Flutter plans on conducting real-time monitoring of bettors via Safer Gambling Controls. Regarding this stage, Proctor commented: “Our second layer is ongoing and real-time monitoring of all customers through our Safer Gambling Controls.
“We’re proud of the progress that’s been made at Flutter, and by the wider industry, to take innovative steps to monitor and protect our customers. Through this we can intervene when we see concerning behaviour.”
The final stage of the framework revolves around the implementation of a spending backstop if ‘on the rare occasion, the first two layers of protection miss someone at risk of harm.’
Flutter intends for this backstop to be tailored to the needs of different customers, and argues it should be ‘set by operators to represent the breadth and depth of their customer bases’.
As younger customers generally have lower affordability and are at higher risk of gambling related harm, Proctor’s framework will feature lower backstops for this demographic.
Concluding his statement, Proctor remarked: “The Affordability Triple-Step could be a critical piece of the puzzle in reducing gambling harm and we believe it is a valuable tool in helping customers know and keep to their limits.
“We have shared some of this thinking with the Gambling Commission and will be including it in our submission to the Gambling Act Review.”
As mentioned above, affordability and the implementation of stricter affordability checks is one of the main issues being discussed during the review into the UK’s gambling regulations.
Some bookmakers, in addition to the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) and some MPs, have expressed concerns that enhanced affordability checks could push some customers towards black market operators, as well as lead to significant losses for Britain’s betting and horse racing industries.