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UK Affordability Check Petition Surpasses 100,000 Signatures

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The petition against the extensive implementation of affordability checks has attained 100,000 signatures in the United Kingdom.

The petition achieved the milestone on Tuesday evening and has now gotten the attention of the parliament petitions committee, which will now arrange a debate to address the concerns raised by the petitioners in the West Minister Hall.

The petition, which was introduced earlier this month by Jockey Club CEO Nevin Truesdale, urges the government to halt the proposed implementation of affordability checks on bettors. It cited concerns about the potential for "inappropriate and discriminatory" checks based on the consumer's postcode or occupation.

Intrusive Checks Could Drive Bettors to Black Market

According to the petition, bettors may have to prove they have the financial capacity to support their hobby if they lose £1.37 daily. It further highlights the potential negative effect of the rule on British horse racing’s finances as a result of a fall in levy yield.

Furthermore, the petition noted that while it recognizes the need to assist individuals with problem gambling, introducing more invasive checks could lead bettors towards the black market.

Financial checks were part of the various proposals outlined in the Gambling Act review white paper. The Gambling Commission ended a public consultation in October 2023 after getting over 2,000 submissions.

Horse Racing Strongly Backs Petition

The petition has garnered support from various stakeholders in the industry, particularly in the horse racing sector.

It is fantastic to see the industry come together on this campaign – and reach the 100,000 threshold within a month. It shows the deep strength of feeling against financial risk checks, as proposed in their current form, and ensures the subject remains very much on the agenda with the government and Gambling Commission. We now ask the petitions committee to table this debate… as a matter of urgency – hopefully in January – given the significance of the petition and the widespread concerns the racing industry holds over the proposed financial risk checks.

Martin StevensonCEO at Racecourse Media Group

Government Defends Affordability Checks

However, the government has since responded to the petition when it initially reached 10,000 signatures. The government defended its stance expressing its commitment to a “proportionate, frictionless system of financial risk checks to protect those at risk of harm without over regulating."

Earlier this month, Gambling Commission CEO Andrew Rhodes rebuffed claims that the proposed changes would steer customers toward the black market. Rhodes expressed his belief that the perceived risk is exaggerated.

Rhodes further explained "That doesn't imply there's no risk, as I've reiterated numerous times. It also doesn't negate the existence of issues."

He appreciated the industry's anecdotal input but highlighted how important it is to turn these stories into actions. He also thanked those who shared confidential information, acknowledging that it has helped deal with these concerns.

Pattern of Play Research

To address the horse racing sector's resistance to affordability checks, Rhodes pointed out findings from the Patterns of Play research which showed that the top one percent of bettors account for 70.4 percent of gross gambling yield (GGY).

He asserted that horse racing not only heavily relies on money lost to operators through gambling but also depends on 70% of that funding from a much smaller group of bettors five times fewer than others.

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