BGC pledges to maintain safer gambling momentum. Michael Dugher.

BGC: Punters have ‘genuine concern’ about affordability checks

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has reiterated its warning about the potential impacts of affordability checks on consumers, and the potential impact this could have on the regulated market.

Citing a new study from YouGov, the trade association pointed out that 79% of surveyed bettors said that increased restrictions ‘would likely’ push customers towards unlicensed ‘black market’ sites.

A further 70% said that they would consider using a different bookmaker if asked to provide ‘private financial documents’ to place a bet.

BGC CEO Michael Dugher said: “This research is the latest in a series outlining the genuine concerns of millions of ordinary punters who feel that the people making decisions about the future of betting are out of touch and have never had a bet in their lives.

“We want to see genuinely non-intrusive checks, which use technology to carefully target and protect the tiny minority of vulnerable punters, but intrusive, blanket, low level so-called ‘affordability’ checks will be universally rejected by punters.”

Enhanced financial risk checks are something which Dugher believes firms are being increasingly pressured to do, as he outlined in a recent interview with the Nick Luck Daily podcast.

The BGC noted that the survey comes ahead of two key milestones for UK betting, the first being the Cheltenham Festival and the second being the publication of the Gambling Act review White Paper.

Having been repeatedly delayed over the past two years, and overseen by over 10 different senior and junior Ministers – the latest being DCMS Secretary Lucy Frazer – the review outlining reforms to UK betting and gaming regulation is apparently due this spring.

Affordability checks have been earmarked as a likely outcome of the review, with the BBC recently reporting that it was almost a guarantee of the overhaul. But former Gambling Minister Paul Scully has argued the term is inaccurate, instead using ‘financial risk checks’.

Throughout the review, the BGC and other betting stakeholders have repeatedly criticised enhanced affordability checks as a potentially intrusive measure which could have deep consequences for the industry and the sports it supports, particularly horse racing.

Dugher added: “Any intrusive and blanket approach risks having the opposite effect by pushing them into the unsafe, unregulated black market which offers no safer gambling tools like time outs and deposit limits, doesn’t support the economy or sport and doesn’t pay a penny in tax.

“Ministers should listen to the millions of punters enjoying Cheltenham rather than pander to a naive and snobbish minority of anti-gambling prohibitionists.”

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