“UK Gambling Commission Faces Criticism Yet Again from Political Figures over ‘Out of Touch’ Actions”

UKGC’s Affordability Checks Face Criticism from MP and Councilor, Risks Offshore Gaming

Posted on: August 9, 2023, 08:29h. Last updated on: August 9, 2023, 08:29h.

MP Philip Davies has warned the horse racing industry about the “crippling and absolutely devastating” consequences of the affordability checks proposed by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). Davies believes the checks will lead to friction and increase offshore gaming. He also criticizes the UKGC as the “most out-of-touch” regulatory entity. North West Leicestershire District Councilor Andrew Woodman shares the same concerns.

The UK flag flies in front of Big Ben
The UK flag flies in front of Big Ben. Concerns over proposed changes to the gambling industry continue fester. (Image: Reuters)

The UK’s gambling white paper, released after several delays, includes proposed actions that would introduce two tiers of affordability checks for operators. The checks aim to ensure customers can afford their gambling expenses. The first tier prompts scrutiny of local individuals’ financial information once spending reaches £125 ($159). A more intense level of financial control is activated at thresholds of £1,000 ($1,272) within 24 hours or £2,000 ($2,544) in a 90-day period.

The UKGC introduced a strategy in July for enforcing these controls and is currently accepting feedback on the proposals. The plan requires a thorough financial evaluation every six months to verify changes in players’ monetary circumstances.

Davies criticizes the checks as overly complicated, potentially preventing bettors from enjoying regulated gambling. He specifically questions the proposal to calculate net losses on a seven-day rolling period, which could subject bettors to repeated checks based on the sports schedule.

Affordability checks, aimed at addressing problem gambling, have been defended by the government officials and the UKGC. However, the market only reports a 0.2% affected rate, raising questions about the allocation of resources.

The UKGC is accepting feedback until October 18 on the proposals. It is a crucial time to address these concerns.

Reforms Expected to Impact Jobs and Tax Revenue

Councilor Woodman argues that the affordability checks contradict the government’s need to increase tax revenue. Instead, the government risks pushing bettors towards offshore platforms that do not contribute to the economy. He predicts that “hundreds of thousands” of bettors may move to unregulated sites, resulting in reduced tax revenue and responsible gambling oversight.

Councillor Woodman expressed concerns over the lack of representation for ordinary gamblers in the Gambling White Paper. He believes bettors should not have to disclose their financial history to faceless corporate institutions.

Woodman also notes that there is no evidence linking affordability checks to a reduction in gambling addiction. He criticizes the government for its lack of understanding on addiction and its motivations. Furthermore, studies suggest that addicts who lose one vice often seek another replacement.

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