Debate in parliament

UK: Philip Davies MP deems Gambling Commision's affordability checks proposal "completely unacceptable"

Philip Davies MP
Reading time 2:36 min

The introduction of compulsory affordability checks has caused much controversy in the UK’s regulated betting and gaming industry. In a parliamentary debate on Monday, Philip Davies MP described the UK Gambling Commission's proposals for financial risk checks as "completely unacceptable."

The debate was triggered after the horse racing sector collected more than 100,000 signatures in a petition against the proposals, the number of signatures needed for a parliamentary debate. Davies, former chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Betting and Gaming, harshly criticized the measure.

"Let me make it clear at the outset that I am speaking up for two groups today. One is the horse racing industry, but first and foremost I am speaking up for punters—the people who have been largely ignored in this long-running debate and tug-of-war over affordability checks," he said.

"They often get caught up in the crossfire of the arguments between the well-funded betting industry and the well-funded anti-gambling campaigners. However, what the government and the Gambling Commission are proposing is completely unacceptable. It is unacceptable that the government, the Gambling Commission and the bookmakers will basically, between them, decide how much each individual punter can afford to spend on their betting and the punter gets virtually no say whatsoever," Davies commented.

Regarding the horse racing sector, he said: "The wonderful sport of horse racing derives much of its income from the gambling industry. So the more people go to the black market, the less money there is for the sport of horse racing. The government cannot possibly allow themselves to introduce measures, however well-meaning, that will have a devastating effect on this great sport."

Carolyn Harris

In response to Davies, Carolyn Harris MP spoke about the potential positive impact the checks could have on vulnerable sectors if implemented correctly. "The overwhelming majority [gamble] without any issue, but not everyone," Harris stated. "When it comes to those for whom gambling is an addiction, the Gambling Commission and the government have a duty to act responsibly and protect them from harm."

Harris described financial risk checks as the "logical way forward" and said they would "not stop anyone who can afford it betting as much as they choose, but it would stop those who cannot".

It’s not expected that the debate will shift the government policy on the matter, as the British Gambling Commission has already announced that it will launch a pilot for proposed enhanced financial risk assessments to test data-sharing practices with credit reference agencies and gambling operators. The pilot will involve select operators and will last four to six months.

The Gambling Commission’s proposal is for "light checks" to be applied to accounts with net losses of £125 (without bonus funds) within 30 days or £500 within 365 days. Meanwhile, "enhanced checks" would apply to accounts with losses of over £1,000 within 24 hours or £2,000 in 90 days. Implementation will begin with the enhanced checks, with the light checks to be added at a later date.

Affordability checks have been the most controversial aspect of the Gambling Act review white paper since its release almost a year ago, and have also become a stand-out element of the review’s subsequent consultations. In October last year, Lord Lipsey, Labour Party peer and chair of Premier Greyhound Racing, spoke out against them and their potential effect on greyhound racing. Lipsey had said that checks on high-spend customers would damage greyhound racing. 

In contrast, gambling harm prevention charity GamCare expressed support for affordability checks, although it questioned threshold levels for the checks. The charity said this could mean that players could lose significant amounts of money before checks are implemented.

Meanwhile, the UK government Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) has revealed that maximum stake limits to be introduced for online slots are expected to reduce gross gambling yield by £166.2 million ($210.7 million). That would be a 5.2% in online slots yield and a 2.6% drop in total online gambling yield.

Leave your comment
Subscribe to our newsletter
Enter your email to receive the latest news
By entering your email address, you agree to Yogonet's Condiciones de uso and Privacy Policies. You understand Yogonet may use your address to send updates and marketing emails. Use the Unsubscribe link in those emails to opt out at any time.