UK: bookmakers’ fines wiped

Seven on-course bookmakers have had their fines wiped..
Seven on-course bookmakers have had their fines wiped..

The UK Gambling Commission has wiped “disproportionate” fines imposed on bookmakers for taking bets from an underage punter at Royal Ascot.

UK.- The Gambling Commission has wiped fines that were imposed on seven racecourse bookmakers after they accepted bets from an underage test purchaser at Royal Ascot last June.

Bookmakers had described the fines as “disproportionate” after they were ordered to pay 2.5 per cent of annual gross gambling yield following test purchasing at the famous royal meeting last June. 

The Commission together with police and trading standards carried out test purchasing with a 16-year-old during the famous royal meeting at the Berkshire racecourse. 

During the operation, the 16-year-old test purchaser was able to place a £5 bet with seven out of 17 bookmakers tested. All seven were ordered to pay a fine amounting to 2.5 per cent of annual gross gambling yield, which in one case meant a fine of £7,000.

Bookmakers described the fines as disproportionate at the time but the Commission says its decision to now wipe them stems from the current challenges faced by on-course bookmakers following the cancellation of racing due to Covid-19. The bookmakers involved will now be issued warnings instead.

A Gambling Commission spokesperson said: “Due to the impact of the exceptional commercial challenges and current uncertainty for on-course bookmakers, we have taken the decision to review the initial sanctions placed on these seven operators.

“We will continue to monitor their standards very closely. If future failings are identified we will not hesitate to take action.”

Robin Grossmith, Director of the Federation of Racecourse Bookmakers, welcomed the decision.

He said: “We’re very pleased they took the opportunity of reviewing it. Having had the opportunity to hear the mitigation pleas from those bookmakers they have been able to reassess the situation.

“Perhaps they felt they were too heavy-handed to start with and have come to a decision which is more realistic given the times we are in.”

Horse racing in the UK is now tentatively expected to restart on June 1. The British Horse Racing Authority has published a provisional schedule of races. 

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