The petition opposing the implementation of affordability checks in the Gambling Act review is set to be discussed in Parliament after reaching 100,000 signatories, prompting the Petitions Committee to schedule a debate in Westminster Hall.
The petition, registered by Jockey Club CEO Nevin Truesdale, calls on the government to abandon the planned implementation of affordability checks on bettors, citing concerns about potential discrimination and negative impacts on horseracing finances. It argues that intrusive checks could prompt bettors to turn to the black market and risk the financial stability of the racing industry.
The Gambling Act review white paper proposed financial risk checks, which garnered over 2,000 responses during a public consultation conducted by the Gambling Commission. However, the Right to Bet survey found that almost half of respondents were willing to switch to the black market if faced with stringent affordability checks, with one in four having already undergone such checks.
Martin Stevenson, CEO at Racecourse Media Group, welcomed the success of the petition, highlighting the widespread concerns within the industry and urging the Petitions Committee to prioritize the debate.
In response to the petition, the government defended its position, emphasizing its commitment to a proportionate system of financial risk checks to protect those at risk of harm without overregulating. Gambling Commission CEO Andrew Rhodes dismissed arguments that the changes would drive customers towards the black market, citing the Patterns of Play research to highlight the disproportionate reliance of the horseracing sector on a small percentage of bettors for a significant portion of the gross gambling yield.
The government and the gambling industry are engaged in a heated debate over the implementation of affordability checks, with the industry pushing back against what it perceives as intrusive and potentially damaging regulations. The success of the petition has placed the issue firmly on the agenda of the government and the Gambling Commission, ensuring that it remains a hotly contested topic in the coming months.