British racing groups slam “disastrous” affordability proposals

The BHA, RCA and HG have joined criticism of the Gambling Commission's proposals.
The BHA, RCA and HG have joined criticism of the Gambling Commission's proposals.

The BHA, RCA and HG have added their official voice to criticism of the Gambling Commission’s plans to impose affordability checks for customers.

UK.- Major British racing bodies have added their voice to the industry’s growing criticism of plans to impose strict affordability checks on gambling customers in the UK.

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA), the Racecourse Association (RCA) and the Horsemen’s Group (HG) have all criticised the Gambling Commission’s proposals, saying they would have a “disastrous” impact on the finances of the racing sector

The British regulator launched a consultation on new affordability proposals in November. The measures include a requirement for gaming operators to implement defined affordability assessments at thresholds set by the Gambling Commission.

But with the racing sector already struggling due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, many stakeholders are concerned that the move would further devastate finances. 

A letter circulating in January warned that the affordability checks could hurt the industry to the tune of £60m a year. The UK chancellor has also raised concerns over the proposals. 

BHA chief executive Julie Harrington said: “A majority of our work, and of leaders across the industry, is currently focused on a range of financial issues that are vital to racing recovering from the impact of Covid-19.

“We have to plan for a range of possibilities and are working with government and other sports on the return of spectators and owners as soon as that is possible.”

The BHA, RCA and HG said they hoped to work with the UK government on its current review of gambling legislation.

RCA chief executive David Armstrong said: “Racing is approaching the most critical period since the beginning of the pandemic.

“With external regulatory issues facing us in the form of the Affordability Review, the Gambling Act Review and Brexit, plus no immediate prospect of race-goers returning, the next six months will be the most crucial period on our recovery journey.”

The gaming industry group, the Betting and Gaming Council, has also criticised the affordability proposals, arguing that they could drive players to the black market.

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