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MP Matt Hancock Highlights Problems with Affordability Checks

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Matt Hancock, the Former government minister and MP for West Suffolk, has spoken in Parliament against the introduction of affordability checks proposed by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) in its White Paper on changes to the Gambling Act.

Hancock says the proposed gambling changes may have adverse effects on the gambling industry as a whole while trying to solve the relatively low number of people who are vulnerable to gambling-related harm. There has already been a sharp rise in the number of players using unregulated gaming websites, with an estimate of around 460,000 people, up from 210,000 in 2020.

Hancock believes there are 2 areas where the government has failed to correctly assess the impact if affordability checks are introduced. Regulated operators will see a drop in their revenue and this will have a knock-on effect of reducing the revenue for gambling programs for the vulnerable due to problem gambling.

The way that the Gambling Commission is bringing in these so-called affordability checks makes people move from gambling on reputable platforms into unregulated gambling. And this is having the opposite effect to the intention. We need to make sure that the Gambling Commission supports gambling that people enjoy whilst also effectively tackling problem gambling rather than driving people into the darker regions of the internet where they can get away from any regulation whatsoever.

Matt HancockMP for West Suffolk

Hancock Expanded Gambling Clinics

Hancock says he supports responsible gambling measures and introduced legislation to promote guidelines that reduce gambling-related harm. While he was Health minister, he oversaw an expansion of gambling clinics to help those vulnerable to gambling-related harm.

He was also in government when there were reforms to retail slot machines situated in betting shops throughout the UK.

Another issue with the reduced revenue from the proposed White Paper reforms is that if players turn to illegal gaming sites, it will have an adverse effect on the responsible gaming programs that are funded by gaming operators in the industry.

UK Media Initiate Petition against Affordability Checks

There is a growing consensus among industry stakeholders in the gaming industry that affordability checks on players are very obtrusive and may put a lot of gamblers off of placing wagers.

They argue the vast majority of gamblers enjoy sports betting and playing at the casino, and the government should not be telling players where to spend their own money.

Related: UK's Proposed Gambling Crackdown Spurs Nationwide Protest and Debate

All stakeholders in the gaming industry have been introducing responsible gambling measures and feel these draconian measures will not help vulnerable players but could have a significant impact on the revenues of the racing industry.

This has led to the racing media introducing a petition against the introduction of affordability checks in the industry. The Racing Post is one of the main media outlets to promote the petition, which has received over 50,000 signatures already. If the petition is signed by more than 100,000 people, that will trigger a flag that means it will be debated in parliament.

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