Gambling Commission considers a ‘Big Brother’ for bettors

The UK Gambling Commission’s “consultation into affordability”, which closed last week, received 13 subsmissions.

The controversial issue of affordability checks for gamblers has been highlighted by racing’s leaders, with some estimates that the sport could lose up to £100 million per year in levy and media rights if stricter measures were brought in requiring gamblers to provide evidence, such as bank statements and pay slips, that they could afford to lose as little as £100 a month.|

Submissions presented to the Gambling Commission include the assertion from one influential think tank that punters should be barely able to detect affordability checks and they should be based on data already held by gambling companies, wherever possible.

The Gambling Commission said on Wednesday that the responses were being assessed, but would not offer a timeline for any outcomes of the consultation.

The BHA, Racecourse Association and Horsemen’s Group expressed “deep concerns” about the impact of stringent affordability criteria on those betting online, while the infringement on individual privacy and liberty has also been at the heart of concerns.

In its submission, the Social Market Foundation (SMF) think tank reiterated its calls for a £100 monthly loss threshold for bookmakers to investigate customer spending. The SMF, which has previously been vocal in calling for more restrictions on gambling, and believes UK punters who fail strict affordability checks should be limited to £100 a month, argued in its submission that betting firms already held significant amounts of data on customers which can be used to prevent harm arising for problem gambling, and that using this would not be an intrusion into customer freedom.

The report said: “These checks should be a non-intrusive process, and should be based on the data already held and the customer due diligence processes already carried out by most remote operators on their customers.

“These checks should be as invisible and non-intrusive to the customer as possible. We envisage the £100 affordability threshold to be an ‘invisible hand’ in the remote gambling marketplace.”

Customer data should be shared with a newly created gambling ombudsman, according to the SMF, which would ultimately have oversight of the area. (extracts: Racing Post).

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