The Horseracing Betting Forum Opposes Affordability Checks

A proposal for affordability checks may put off millions of punters away from betting on horse racing, a written submission from the Horseracing Bettors Forum (HBF) is set to warn the Gambling Commission (GC) in the UK this week.

Statement Ready to Be Submitted

The HBF, which represents the interest of bettors on British racing and was set in 2015 with the aid of the British Horseracing Association (BHA), prepared a written statement regarding the initiated last year consultation from the gambling regulator, asking for industry opinions on how to improve online customer interaction, among which the proposal for affordability checks.

The suggestion that bettors should be subdued to checks whether they can afford to lose more when they reach the threshold of £100 net loss per month, sent shivers down the spine of industry stakeholders, concerned that horse racing may lose more than £60 million in levy and income from media rights.

The HBF firmly believes that the introduction of affordability checks at such a low level of net loss per month would not solve problem gambling, the organization outlines in its written submission, arguing that if affordability checks are at all needed, these should be set at a much higher level.

“…we believe that making potentially millions of bettors have to undergo affordability checks will dissuade many from continuing with this pursuit, which will in turn have a significant impact on the sport of horse racing.”

Horseracing Betting Forum

The forum’s chairman Colin Hord elaborated on that position by adding that many bettors who already face requirements to provide operators with payslips, pension or savings information, bank statements and other documents, express their views that to satisfy regulators that way is time-consuming and intrusive.

Bettors Will Switch to Offshore Operators

Hord also retorted that, as much as affordability checks are touted as a solution to the issue of problem gambling, there are multiple ways to work around them, if implemented, including “signing up with different bookmakers, using different accounts, betting at the bookies, betting on the racecourse” and others, but the biggest threat to the industry is that people would switch to unregulated operators.

“And there is this potential fear of people using unregulated or overseas operators as well. That’s a concern for us. Having got a well-regulated gambling industry in the UK it would be foolish to push people somewhere else.”

Colin Hord, Chairman, HBF

The prepared submission even goes on to suggest a distinction between games of chance such as online casino and betting on horseracing and sports should be made by the Gambling Commission, slightly different from the anonymous letter sent to MPs recently, which requested special treatment for both horseracing and iGaming.

The HBF reiterated that a thorough evaluation of already implemented safer gambling tools should be made before an imposition of affordability checks, more so with the other ways currently available for operators to identify people at risk.

The GC extended the consultation period until February 9, while at the same time the government is conducting the review of the Gambling Act 2005, where affordability checks would also be considered.

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