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UK Racing launches petition against affordability checks

A public petition has been launched by British racing stakeholders to ‘stop the implementation of betting affordability/financial risk checks‘.

The petition, which has currently amassed over 40,000 signatures, was initiated by Nevin Truesdale, Chief Executive of The Jockey Club – the UK’s largest racecourse operator.

Led by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), racing stakeholders have openly stated their opposition to affordability checks outlined by the government’s review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

At present, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is evaluating White Paper responses to proposed ‘unintrusive checks’ on moderate levels of spend of £125 net loss within a month, or £500 within a year.

If warranted, the Commission can summon checks at higher levels of spend,  between losses of £1,000 in a single day or £2,000 over a three-month period

Furthermore, the Commission has suggested reducing the benchmarks for more intensive scrutiny by 50% for individuals between the ages of 18 and 24.

British racing maintains its warning to the government that checks could have a “catastrophic” impact on horseracing, which could witness a £250m downturn in lost betting revenue over the next five years, should checks be implemented.

The petition cites: “We want the Government to abandon the planned implementation of affordability checks for some people who want to place a bet.

“We believe such checks – which could include assessing whether people are ‘at risk of harm’ based on their postcode or job title – are inappropriate and discriminatory.”

Notably, British racing emphasised that a sector, which contributes £4bn annually to the UK’s economy and supports 85,000 jobs, cannot remain viable if customer spend is monitored at £1.37 daily.

Gambling Commission’s CEO Andrew Rhodes has previously refuted racing concerns about affordability checks, citing that misconceptions have been made on the unintrusive two-tier system that will be applied to British customers.

In September, Rhodes defended the Commission against ‘imbalanced reporting’ by the Racing Post, claiming that affordability checks had been deliberately misrepresented.

Rhodes reaffirmed that only 3% of gamblers would be subject to financial risk assessments via ‘light check’ credit references or use of Open Banking data.

The Commission maintains that only 0.3% of account holders will be asked to directly provide additional financial information – as 99.7% of customers will remain uninterrupted.

Aware of the concerns, the UKGC has called on racing’s diverse stakeholders to submit opinions and feedback during the ongoing consultation phase regarding the White Paper’s recommendations on gambling reforms. 

The government must respond to the petition that has gathered more than 10,000 signatures. Should the petition surpass 100,000 signatures, it will be subject to debate in Parliament.

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