iGB is getting you ready for the biggest show of 2024 with a new series covering the latest developments since 2023’s show, including the review of the UK Gambling Act. A huge landmark for the UK gambling industry, the white paper outlined how gambling should be regulated going forward. Key terms included consultations on stake limits, a mandatory statutory levy for operators, and the introduction of an ombudsman.

Affordability checks have been a contentious issue, with many in the industry opposing the proposals outlined in the white paper. However, the proposals were made with the intention of protecting vulnerable groups, as research from the Gambling Commission revealed that one in 40 Britons is a problem gambler.

The Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media, and Sport, Lucy Frazer, announced plans to “force” operators to ramp up their affordability checks. This move includes financial risk checks for players who lose significant amounts within specific time frames.

The industry response to affordability checks has been vehement, with concerns about the potential harm to business. Andrew Rhodes, Commission chief executive, addressed these concerns, stating that fears of driving gamblers to the black market were “overstated.” However, industry pressure led to open letters and speeches addressing what Rhodes called “deliberate misinformation.”

A pivotal moment in the fight against affordability checks came when Jockey Club chief executive Nevin Truesdale launched an online petition rallying opposition against the checks. The petition reached 100,000 signatures, enough to ensure a debate in Parliament.

Despite the intention to protect vulnerable groups, there are suggestions that financial risk checks could drive them towards unregulated play. While the Commission dismissed these concerns, industry veteran David Brown expressed worries that intrusive affordability checks could encourage illegal operators in Britain.

Overall, the industry is deeply divided over the issue of affordability checks, with strong opposition from operators and trade bodies, and concerns about the potential impact on vulnerable gamblers and the black market. This issue is likely to remain a hot topic leading up to the ICE show in 2024.

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