GCF encourage bettors to contact MP’s about affordability check concerns

The Gamblers Consumer Forum have produced a letter to lobby MPs who don’t have racecourse in their constituency to help them understand the seriousness of the Gambling Commission’s plans for affordability and what it will mean for jobs and the racing industry. You can find your MP here  and write to them via this website https://www.writetothem.com/

Dear [insert name of MP]

Great Britain is the proud home of 59 racecourses. Every racecourse provides an iconic sporting landmark in the area, numerous jobs at multiple levels, and a huge boost to the local economy. There is growing and widespread concern that the recent White Paper on gambling reform could have a detrimental effect on the racing industry directly, along with breeding and bloodstock industries that pollinate it. The most worrying element of the recently proposed gambling regulation relates to the proposals to introduce ‘affordability checks’ on gamblers. Gambling companies’ contribution to the Horserace Betting Levy is a very significant financial contribution to prize money, and prize money is of vital importance to the success of the sport and its ability to be the economic powerhouse that it is.

The Racing Post recently uncovered anecdotal evidence that 70-80% of gamblers would refuse to hand over data to support affordability checks (see below for a summary of the affordability check criteria). For those individuals, their choice is either to place their bets in the black market, or forgo the act of betting altogether. For horse racing, this is likely to be hugely damaging. The Horserace Betting Levy (which is a percentage of betting turnover) is one of the funding streams for prize money, and therefore relies on betting to take place, and in the regulated market. The Gamblers Consumer Forum recently estimated that as a result of gamblers not contributing to the Levy after rejecting affordability checks, the Levy Yield roughly halve, and as a result, would see a 17.5% drop in prize money. Prize money is vital in maintaining the prestige of the sport, both nationally and among international jurisdictions, which, in turn, is vital in supporting the UK breeding industry, that supports upwards of 80,000 jobs.

This figure just takes into account the consequences of Levy reduction – the real figure is likely to be far, far higher. High prize money and healthy field sizes (the number of horses who are entered to race per race in the UK) are also essential for the 1) continuation of media rights and 2) the public’s interest in the racing itself. Both of these pillars make up the remainder of the income stream for the sport, in addition to Levy Yield. If racecourses themselves are forced to plug the hole of Levy reduction, this limits the amount of job opportunities they can provide for local people, as well as potentially the number of fixtures that see vacancies open up for waiting staff, security staff, and other similar roles that are particularly suited to young people.

The Government’s aim to combat addiction is indeed a noble one, but the overreaching regulations contained within the White Paper show a fundamental lack of understanding about the nature of addiction. Addiction is a cognitive and clinical condition and therefore, any other measures are merely substitutes for the real solution: targeted clinical treatment from those with a specialisation in addiction recovery. Regulations such as affordability checks show no regard for the compulsive nature of addiction; addiction will not answer to a ‘computer says no’ approach – those addicted will merely find another way to get their dopamine hit, either through the black market, where they will continue their addiction off the radar away from where we can help them, or move to another addiction. The latter point is of particular concern, considering up to 63% of those with a gambling addiction also report a history of alcohol abuse or dependency. As of yet, no one has provided any figures as to how this potential shift may impact drink-related NHS services, an area that is already under strain.

I would urge you to participate in the Gambling Commission’s consultation (https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/about-us/consultations) and communicate your concerns directly with the Gambling Commission. I would also request you urgently contact the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to register your concerns. Affordability checks are unnecessary, illiberal, and disproportionate to the 99.8% of British adults who do not show any signs of pathological gambling, and will not help the individuals it purports to protect – those who need clinical help to treat and manage a gambling addiction. A statutory levy, if used for research into more advanced treatments for addiction, and better protection for children are, of course, welcome measures in the gambling reform discussion, but these are the exceptions.

Horse racing in the UK is an economic powerhouse that spreads the length and breadth of the country, responsible for some of Britain’s most iconic and memorable sporting moments. For this incredible asset to continue to thrive, it requires a formidable prestige to maintain its presence on the world stage.

The proposed financial/affordability checks are summarised as follows:

Financial Check

£125 net loss rolling 30 days

£500 net loss rolling 365 days

Supposedly “friction free” credit check to look for bankruptcy or CCJs

Estimated 21.2% of accounts (6.1m)

to be checked

Checks repeated annually

Under 25’s checked at 50% of threshold

Binge Gambling

£1,000 net loss per rolling 24-hour period

Enhanced financial check (customer must supply bank statements etc.)

Estimated 2% of accounts (600,000) to be checked

Checks repeated after 6 months

Under 25’s checked at 50% of threshold

Significant Losses Over Time

£2,000 net loss per rolling 90 days

Enhanced financial check (customer must supply bank statements etc.)

Estimated 3.2% of accounts (1m) to be checked

Checks repeated after 6 months

Under 25’s checked at 50% of threshold

Kind regards

[insert name here]


Share this post:

Related Posts
Please subscribe to our regular newsletter detailing the progress we are making with our campaigns.