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UK Industry Groups Warn Of Customer 'Rejection' Of Affordability

February 17, 2023
The Betting and Gaming Council has said there is “widespread rejection” of affordability checks after the publishing of a consumer survey conducted by Racing TV.


The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has said there is “widespread rejection” of affordability checks after the publishing of a consumer survey conducted by Racing TV.

The comments were made by Racecourse Media Group's (parent company of Racing TV) CEO, Martin Stevenson, who added that affordability checks "appear to be having the dysfunctional effect of pushing potentially vulnerable punters into the unregulated black market, and therefore an unsafe environment”.

A spokesperson for the UK Gambling Commission said, "operators are currently required to have systems in place which identify people who may be at risk of harm and to take appropriate action".

"One part of an operator's approach to managing risk is having proportionate thresholds at which more information is required to satisfy themselves that there is no issue with that customer relationship,” the Gambling Commission told VIXIO GamblingCompliance.

The regulator added that “it is up to the operator to identify people who may be at risk of harm and to take appropriate action”.

In a press release, the BGC showed its support for a Racing TV campaign, encouraging horseracing fans to write letters that seek assurances from their MPs and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) ministers regarding their concerns about the future of gambling regulation.

The BGC said: “Many [gamblers] want to ensure that any changes will not impinge on their enjoyment of the sport and would not result in any unintended economic consequences to British horseracing.”

The findings of the consumer survey conducted by Racing TV to assess the scale of the black market and affordability checks received over 3,450 responses.

Of the respondents, 80 percent said they would not like to see mandatory limits imposed by bookmakers and 15 percent said they bet, or know someone that bets, with an unregulated online bookmaker.

Additionally, 22 percent of the respondents said they have been asked to supply personal information, with half of those asked refusing to do so.

There is still a sense of uncertainty when it comes to the future of affordability checks for the UK market, largely due to the delayed white paper publication.

Speaking at ICE in London on February 8, Gambling Commission chief executive Andrew Rhodes outlined his vision for a future where there can be a “mature” conversation about the virtues of protecting players through affordability checks, balanced against the limits on consumer freedom that entails.

However, he also pointed to current and future enforcement cases as evidence that the industry still has problems to solve.

The speech at ICE came not long after Paul Scully, the former minister for gambling at the DCMS, told members of the BGC at their annual general meeting (AGM) on January 26 that the long-awaited Gambling Act review white paper would not include “affordability checks”.

Instead, Scully suggested that the white paper, which has still not been finalised, would instead include “financial risk checks” as it is “not the role of government to tell people how much they can spend on gambling”.

Since the AGM, Scully has been moved from his post to the newly created Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, and it is still not clear who will oversee gambling policy at the DCMS.

Separately, the Gambling Commission responded this week to concerns raised by MPs that lottery products can still be purchased with credit cards.

The Gambling Commission said: “Under the Third Licence, the National Lottery operator does not allow the use of credit cards to play the National Lottery online or via their app. The 4th Licence will codify that position.”

However, the regulator added that “prohibiting retailers from accepting credit cards when a National Lottery product is being purchased, would be highly complex to implement with significant practical implications for retailers. It would also carry the risk that some retailers would stop selling National Lottery products."

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