UK parliament sees heated debate on affordability checks for online gambling

The Gambling Commission has already announced a pilot for financial risk checks.
The Gambling Commission has already announced a pilot for financial risk checks.

Philip Davies MP described the Gambling Commission’s proposals as “completely unacceptable”.

UK.- Philip Davies MP has hit out at the Gambling Commission’s proposals for financial risk checks for online gambling. In a parliamentary debate on Monday, he said the proposals were “completely unacceptable”.

The debate was triggered after the horse racing sector collected more than 100,000 signatures in a petition against the proprosals. Davies, former chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Betting and Gaming said: “Let me make it clear at the outset that I am speaking up for two groups today. One is the horse racing industry, but first and foremost I am speaking up for punters. The people who have been largely ignored in this long-running debate and tug-of-war over affordability checks.

“They often get caught up in the crossfire of the arguments between the well-funded betting industry and the well-funded anti-gambling campaigners.”

He added: “However, what the government and the Gambling Commission are proposing is completely unacceptable. It is unacceptable that the government, the Gambling Commission and the bookmakers will basically, between them, decide how much each individual punter can afford to spend on their betting and the punter gets virtually no say whatsoever.”

Regarding the horse racing sector, he said: “The wonderful sport of horse racing derives much of its income from the gambling industry. So the more people go to the black market, the less money there is for the sport of horse racing. The government cannot possibly allow themselves to introduce measures, however well meaning, that will have a devastating effect on this great sport.”

Responding to Davies, Carolyn Harris MP said: “The overwhelming majority [gamble] without any issue, but not everyone,” Harris stated. “When it comes to those for whom gambling is an addiction, the Gambling Commission and the government have a duty to act responsibly and protect them from harm.”

She insisted that she was “very fond of visiting the racetrack, as I am the bingo hall” but said she wanted to “protect vulnerable people”. She described financial risk checks as the “logical way forward” and said they would “not stop anyone who can afford it betting as much as they choose, but it would stop those who cannot”.

Trial of financial risk checks

It’s not expected that the debate will shift the government policy on the matter. The British Gambling Commission has already announced that it will launch a pilot for proposed enhanced financial risk assessments to test data-sharing practices with credit reference agencies and gambling operators. The pilot will involve select operators and will last four to six months.

The Gambling Commission’s proposal is for “light checks” to be applied to accounts with net losses of £125 (without bonus funds) within a 30-day period or £500 within 365 days. Enhanced checks would apply to accounts with losses of over £1,000 within 24 hours or £2,000 in 90 days. Implementation will begin with the enhanced checks, with the light checks to be added at a later date.

Meanwhile, the UK government Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) has revealed that maximum stake limits to be introduced for online slots are expected to reduce gross gambling yield by £166.2m. That would be a 5.2 per cent drop in online slots yield and a 2.6 per cent drop in total online gambling yield.

In this article:
gambling regulation online gambling