Racing bodies concerned proposed UK affordability checks will have “disastrous impact”

By Iqbal Johal

Major horse racing bodies have criticised the Gambling Commission’s proposed introduction of affordability checks for online operators to carry out in the UK.

In a statement, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), the Racecourse Association (RCA) and The Horsemen’s Group (HG) hit out at the proposals, citing a lack of evidence and the “disastrous impact” they could have on racing’s finances, and its customers, as It recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

In November, the Gambling Commission launched a consultation to gain feedback on how operators can strengthen their ability to identify players at risk of gambling harms.

This included how operators need to improve the way it acts on information about a consumer’s vulnerability, which would see affordability conduct assessments at thresholds set by the commission, introduced.

However, the racing bodies said that around two-thirds of racing betting is online and claimed the sport has low levels of problem gambling issues, and the proposals don’t take into account those who bet safely and lawfully.

The joint statement said: “With the possibility of a damaging regulatory intervention on affordability, as well as the impact of betting shop closures and the absence of spectators, racing’s leaders see the need to adopt a flexible and collaborative approach.

“Executives are ready to develop proposals in dialogue with betting operators, whilst providing the government with fresh evidence of market changes that have taken place since 2017, to demonstrate the case for reform.”

The bodies did mentioned that it supports the UK government’s review of the 2005 Gambling Act, and that it will continue discussions with the betting industry to identify potential reforms that benefit all parties, taking responsible gambling in mind.

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