UK punters averse to betting companies carrying out “affordability checks”

A mere 16 out of every hundred punters would undergo “affordability checks”, or checks on whether they can actually afford to place a bet


The Betting and Gaming Council of the United Kingdom released the results of a YouGov survey finding that a mere 16 out of every hundred punters would undergo “affordability checks”, or checks on whether they can actually afford to place a bet. Conversely, about 58 per cent of respondents declared that they would not willingly allow regulated betting and gaming firms to carry out the arbitrary blanket checks demanded by anti-gambling campaigners.

The Betting and Gaming Council is a London-based organisation whose mission is “to champion the betting and gaming industry and set world class standards to ensure an enjoyable, fair and safe betting and gaming experience for all our customers.” The BGC’s membership list reads like a hall of fame of UK operators in gaming, casino, sports betting and bingo. 

Affordability checks are currently being considered as part of the UK Government’s review of the 2005 Gambling Act, launched in December 2020 by the Culture Secretary. The review is led by Ministers at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, whilst also engaging with departments across Government and other stakeholders such as the Gambling Commission, the industry, health and charitable sector, people who have experienced gambling harm, and many others.

The BGC has welcomed the review as a way of promoting safer gambling. Declaring itself as the standards body for the regulated industry, the BGC represents 90% of UK operators and 119,000 people whose jobs depend on the regulated betting and gaming industry. The organisation claims to have called for the review as an extensive, evidence-led exercise that will help protect the vulnerable “whilst not spoiling the enjoyment of the estimated 30 million people in the UK who enjoy a bet”.

In addition to punters’ overt aversion to the dreaded affordability checks, the YouGov poll also discovered that 59 per cent of punters believe that such Government-imposed checks “would lead to a large or substantial risk of customers using unlicensed sites in the unsafe black market online instead.”

The BGC has alluded to the unfair competition and downright dangerous practices carried out by numerous illegal gambling websites that do not follow the standards adhered to by the licensed and regulated sector. The most significant abuses are targeting problem gamblers, not carrying out strict ID and age verification checks, and doing away with safer gambling tools like deposit limits and cooling off periods offered by the BGC’s members.

The poll also found that 51 per cent of all adults think that increased black market use will cause more problem gambling. The regulated sector, whether in the UK or elsewhere, actively monitors and intervenes in cases of problem gambling or customers that show signs of being at risk. The BGC does indeed favour greater spending checks, but believes these should be limited to problem gamblers and individuals who are at risk, rather than blanket checks on anyone who fancies placing a bet.

As ministers continue to grapple with the ongoing gambling review, the gambling white paper has been delayed from its expected publication in 2021 and now appears to be due this spring. Meanwhile, BGC CEO Michael Dugher has gone on record to pronounce his organization’s survey a “wake up” as Government prepares to publish the white paper.

“We strongly support the gambling review as a once in a generation opportunity to raise standards and promote safer gambling. Ministers have said it will be an evidence-led process and these findings are a wake-up call showing the potential dangers of introducing blanket affordability checks on anyone who likes a flutter.”, Dugher insisted.

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