UKGC Affordability Check Data Challenged by GCF
The Gamblers Consumer Forum (GCF) has reached out to the UK Statistics Authority with concerns about the Gambling Commission's data on the number of people potentially impacted by the proposed affordability checks on gamblers.
The GCF is seeking an explanation from the UK Statistics Authority on recent data published by the Commission. The data suggests that over a million accounts could be affected by the implementation of more rigorous affordability checks. GCF is also asking for insights into the statistical methodology used by the UKGC.
GCFC Calls for Publication of Context
Affordability checks were among the recommendations in the Gambling Act white paper, released in April. As these numbers significantly influence governmental policy, the GCF has emphasized the importance of data being presented together with relevant context.
The proposed policy changes are predicated on the premise that ‘only 3%’ of betting accounts would be subject to checks. The CEO of the Gambling Commission has made this claim on several occasions, most recently in both the CMS Select Committee and in an open letter to Racing Post readers last week. This figure is being used both to assuage opposition to affordability checks and as a means to promote the concept of ‘frictionless’ checks, despite the fact, based on evidence where affordability checks are already taking place, this is practically impossible.
UKGC's Affordability Checks Under Fire
The UK Gambling Commission's consultation documents indicate that 600,000 accounts will undergo checks due to binge gambling. Additionally, one million more will face scrutiny for 'significant losses' in past years.
The GCF is questioning the Statistics Authority about whether they concur that more than a million accounts will be subject to enhanced scrutiny. If so, the GCF is asking for an explanation of the 3% claim made by the UKGC and the government.
The organization is arguing that this figure is being used to back up the idea that affordability checks are effective despite the absence of evidence that they curb addiction. Furthermore, the GCF contends that the use of these figures by the Commission undermines the consultation process and distracts from more effective, clinically tested methods of treating gambling addiction.
Concerns over Data Collection Methodology
Regarding how the figure was calculated, the GCF has said that it was based on research carried out by the UKGC that examined 5.86 million accounts from May 2020 to April 2021. During the same timeframe, there were 32 million active online gambling accounts. However, the GCF also notes that the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns would have had a substantial impact on these figures. Therefore, the GCF argues that the period is an unsuitable example.
Moreover, the GCF highlighted that the study doesn't account for individuals who hold multiple gambling accounts, urging that data should represent the percentage of people affected rather than just accounts.
In a recent Racing Post survey, 16.6% of active bettors had been asked for documentation during an affordability check, which the GCF says calls the Gambling Commission's figures into question.