The legal tug-of-war between different parties in the UK gambling industry continues as a new YouGov poll is now the basis of the latest argument against imposing onerous restrictions that are largely seen as counter-productive.
The poll, which found out that only 16% of bettors support a 2005 Gambling Act review which would come with cumbersome affordability checks, has been cited by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) as a reason not to go too heavily on consumers who want to participate in gambling but do not wish to have every financial detail about them scrutinized.
Tread Carefully with Affordability Checks
According to the poll, 58% of respondents outright rejected the proposed measures, and 59% added that the government getting involved in the proposed manner would just force people to turn to the black market for easier gambling experiences.
The black market is not easy or safe, though, and this seems to be the one thing that both camps can agree on. The YouGov survey indicates that should this measure go ahead, 51% of respondents believe that the increase in black market spending will result in higher levels of problem gambling.
BGC CEO Michael Dugher commented on the organization’s own support of the Gambling Act review, but added that it should be done in a way that protects consumers rather than prevents them from accessing their pastime:
“Ministers have said it will be an evidence-led process, and these findings are a wakeup call showing the potential dangers of introducing blanket affordability checks on anyone who likes a flutter.”BGC CEO Michael Dugher
Dugher has repeatedly called for a reviewing process that would find a way to protect those vulnerable people who participate in gambling but also allow the majority of regular gamblers to not be stopped from enjoying their hobby. In the meantime, the affordability checks review may have deeper consequences on the horse racing industry as well.
The Evidence Mounts against Affordability Checks
The BGC has been able to cite previous evidence pointing to the same expected outcomes. A RacingTV study, for example, revealed that 95% of respondents would not be happy if bookmakers had to check their bank accounts and had access to this financial information.
In that survey, 85% responded that consumers will just start to exit the market in droves and seek alternative gambling websites, effectively returning the industry to pre-2005 times. Dugher was compassionate with problem gamblers:
“According to the Gambling Commission, the rate of problem gambling fell from 0.6 per cent to 0.3 per cent in the 12 months to September last year. But one problem gambler is one too many.”BGC CEO Michael Dugher
The latest numbers of problem gambling in the UK are 0.3%. However, there is some hope that the government will not act ham-fistedly in the upcoming review. Gambling Minister Chris Philip said that asking consumers to provide pay slips or bank statements would be a disruptive practice that no one is looking forward to.