A proposal to control affordability could scare millions of gamblers away from betting on horse racing. A written statement from the Horseracing Bettors Forum (HBF) is expected to alert the Gambling Commission (GC) in the UK this week.
Statement ready for transmission
The HBF, which represents the interests of bookmakers with UK racing and was established in 2015 with the support of the British Horseracing Association (BHA), has prepared a written statement on the gambling regulator's consultation launched last year, asking for industry views on how to improve online interactions with customers, including a proposal to control affordability.
The suggestion that bettors should be screened to see if they can afford to lose more once they reach the £100 net loss per month threshold sent shivers down the spines of industry stakeholders fearing that horse racing could lose more than £60 million in fees and media rights revenue.
The HBF is convinced that introducing affordability controls at such a low level of net losses per month would not solve the gambling problem, the organization points out in its written statement, arguing that if affordability controls are needed at all, they should be a much higher level.
"... We believe that forcing millions of players to pass affordability checks will discourage many from pursuing this pursuit, which in turn will have a significant impact on the sport of horse racing."
Horse racing betting forum
Forum chairman Colin Hord elaborated, adding that many bettors who already face requirements to provide operators with payslips, pension or savings information, bank statements and other documents express the view that satisfying regulators in this way is time-consuming and burdensome.
Players will switch to offshore operators
Hord also countered that while affordability controls are advertised as a solution to problem gambling, there are many ways around them if implemented, including "registering with different bookmakers, using different accounts, betting with bookmakers , betting at the racecourse and more, but the biggest threat to the industry is that people will switch to unregulated operators.
"And there is a potential fear of people also using unregulated or foreign operators. That's a problem for us. Having a well-regulated gambling industry in the UK, it would be foolish to force people elsewhere."
Colin Hord, HBF President
The prepared submission even suggests that the Gambling Commission should distinguish between games of chance, such as online casino, and betting on horse racing and sports, somewhat different from the anonymous letter recently sent to MPs asking for special treatment for both horse racing and iGaming.
The HBF reiterated that a thorough assessment of safer gambling tools already in place should be carried out before imposing affordability controls, particularly for other currently available ways for operators to identify those at risk.
The GC has extended the consultation period to 9 February , while the government conducts a review of the Gambling Act 2005, which would also consider affordability checks.