The Gamblers Consumer Forum have written to all those MPs who represent racecourses, urging them to attend a Westminster Hall debate on the future of racing. The GCF have provided a briefing on the projected cost to racing of affordability checks, the threat of the black market and an alternative we have proposed to the Gambling Commission, who are yet to respond to us. The letter is reproduced below:
As an MP that represents a racecourse, we are writing to ask that you attend the Westminster Hall debate on the future of horseracing at 2.30pm next week.
Our organisation, the Gamblers Consumer Forum, has been set up in recent months to represent the views of ordinary gamblers who have been underrepresented in the ongoing debate around gambling harms and who face unprecedented intrusion upon their personal data and finances under the Government’s ‘affordability checks’ proposals.
The proposals around affordability put forward by the Gambling Commission will have a devastating impact on racing, with research suggesting a reduction in the levy going to fund horseracing of up to 30%, based on anecdotal evidence from bookmakers that over 80% of customers refuse to go ahead with requests for financial information. Naturally, this wouldn’t just impact the sport of horseracing, itself an iconic part of our great British heritage, but would have untold consequences for the economic powerhouse it has created – some 80,000 jobs in the breeding industry alone.
The GFC have modelled our own estimates on this which can be found here.
The GCF believe that the Gambling Commission is acting beyond its remit, ignoring Ministers calls that any checks must be frictionless, and displaying a bias in favour of gambling harms groups where it comes to the use of statistics. In doing so, the Gambling Commission shows a blatant disregard for the 2015 Deregulation Growth Duty by bringing about reforms which will empower the black market, and with it organised crime. These proposals are also predicted to weaken sporting integrity and see a reduction in tax revenues. A full explanation on the impact the proposals will have on the black market can be found here.
There is no evidence that affordability checks will have any impact on those addicted to gambling, and even leading clinicians agree that addiction cannot be characterised by financial loss. The GCF have written to the Gambling Commission with a proposal that would see those struggling being signposted to clinical treatment with an app. This app has been backed and designed with the help with Dr Lefever, a world leading expert in addiction. We believe it is impossible to solve clinical problems with non-clinical solutions, especially when it also presents so many unprecedented unintended consequences.
Our app proposal has been recently backed by recovering addicts, and we hope, in addition to attending the Westminster Hall debate to show your support for horseracing, you will also consider backing our app, the proposal of which can be found here
These proposals present a very real threat to one of Britain’s most successful home grown industries, the horse racing industry, and also to the clinical outcomes of those who require treatment for a gambling addiction. There is still a few weeks for the Government and Gambling Commission to change course – but we need your help to achieve that.
If you have any further questions then please do respond to this email.
Andrew Woodman & Abbie Macgregor
Co-founders of the Gamblers Consumer Forum