The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has recently come under fire for its proposed affordability checks that aim to protect customers from excessive gambling. However, these checks have sparked concerns among politicians and industry experts, who believe that they may have devastating consequences for the gambling industry. In this article, we will explore the potential impact of these affordability checks and the arguments put forward by both sides.
The Controversial Affordability Checks
The UKGC’s proposed affordability checks consist of two tiers that operators would have to complete on users. The first tier would require individuals to scrutinize the financial information of local persons involved once they have reached a spending threshold of £125 (US$159). The second tier would involve a more intense level of financial control for individuals who surpass the £1,000 (US$1,272) spending threshold within a 24-hour period or £2,000 (US$2,544) within a 90-day period.
Political Figures Express Concerns
Member of Parliament Philip Davies has been vocal about his opposition to the affordability checks. He describes the UKGC as “the most out-of-touch” regulatory entity and warns that these checks could have crippling consequences for the horse racing industry. Davies is not alone in his concerns, as other politicians share his sentiment.
Davies argues that the proposed checks will make betting too complicated and may drive bettors to offshore platforms. He believes that these measures could prevent thousands of bettors from enjoying the activity through regulated channels. Moreover, he criticizes the proposal to calculate net losses on a seven-day rolling period, as it could result in repeated checks for bettors depending on the sports schedule.
The Need for Affordability Checks
While some government officials and the UKGC argue that affordability checks are necessary to counter problem gambling, sceptics question the allocation of significant resources to address an issue that only affects 0.2% of the gambling market. The lack of an explanation for the need for such extensive measures raises further concerns.
Potential Impact on Jobs and Tax Revenue
Councilor Andrew Woodman expresses his concerns about the impact of the proposed checks on the UK economy. He believes that instead of finding ways to increase tax revenue, the government is pushing bettors towards unregulated offshore casinos that do not contribute to the economy. Woodman argues that the checks will not only lead to a decrease in tax contributions but also put hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk, particularly in the horse racing industry.
Woodman highlights the potential shift of bettors to unregulated sites and the subsequent reduction in tax revenue and responsible gambling oversight. He questions the government’s understanding of addiction, stating that there is no evidence linking affordability checks to addiction. He argues that addiction is not motivated by money and that addicts often seek alternative vices when one is taken away.
The Debate Continues
The UKGC is currently accepting feedback on the proposed affordability checks until October 18th. This period provides an opportunity for stakeholders to voice their concerns and for the government to address the questions raised about the necessity and potential consequences of these measures.
The proposed affordability checks by the UKGC have ignited a debate within the gambling industry and among political figures. While some argue that these checks are necessary to counter problem gambling, others express concerns about their potential impact on the industry, jobs, and tax revenue. The government now faces the task of carefully considering the feedback received during the consultation period and finding a balance between protecting customers and ensuring the sustainability of the gambling industry.