January 10, 2022 3 min read

The Gambling Review Could Endanger UK’s Horse Racing Industry

Due to publication in the spring of 2022, the UK Government’s White Paper will establish the proposals that would emerge from the Review of the Gambling Act 2005. This Act is the basis for regulating all forms of gambling in the UK, thus the critical importance of the pending changes about to be brought to it.  

While the contents of the review are yet to be revealed, specific measures like the completion of affordability checks or the introduction of limits on losses, stakes, and deposits have been brought up. As expected, they have sparked a lot of controversy in the industry. The same goes for the potential implementation of restrictions on promotional betting materials.

Many sports bettors, casual and professional punters, have expressed their concerns regarding the review of the Gambling Act and the devastating effects it could trigger. Professional punter Neil Channing has recently referred to the possible outcome of the Review as an “existential threat” to the horse racing industry in itself.

Channing expressed his concerns regarding the way these affordability checks and restrictions on sports betting could negatively affect the financial health of the industry. He also emphasized the long- and short-term effects of the Review’s outcomes on the personal freedom of a bettor.

Will Affordability Checks Put an End to Horse Race Betting for Many?

According to the new terms of the affordability checks that may be a part of the reviewed Gambling Act, bettors would have to provide sportsbooks with bank statements, P60 forms, and a variety of other similar financial documents. The documents would be part of a new verification process bettors would need to go through to be allowed to make a deposit and place a bet.

Many sportsbooks believe lots of bettors would be ultimately intimidated and forced to give up their betting habits, provided they would be asked to send in this type of documentation. While the Gambling Commission could have introduced the new requirements into the new Act at the beginning of 2021, the impressive number of people who debated it convinced the Commission to postpone it. While this was a small and temporary win for the horse racing industry, a new battle is now being carried against implementing the new proposals in the reviewed Gambling Act.

The New Affordability Checks Could Stimulate the Black Market for Betting

According to Channing, many bettors would feel compelled to search for new ways to bet on horse racing should the enhanced affordability measures be implemented. WhatsApp gray sportsbooks are already a reality of our times. Some of them are licensed, and they usually invite bettors to take screenshots of the bets they would like to make and the bonuses they would like to get on them. However, the horse racing black market for foreign sportsbooks would attract even more bettors off the books through private messages, with zero mention of the affordability checks.

Further backing up his stance against the new affordability checks, Channing also mentioned the stricter gambling measures that have been implemented by sportsbooks in the past few years for raising awareness on the matter of problem gambling. He believes these measures have generated good results in an attempt to lower the number of problem gamblers in the UK.

It remains to be seen whether the new changes will be implemented and whether their effects on horse betting will be as powerful as predicted by many voices in the industry.

After finishing her master's in publishing and writing, Melanie began her career as an online editor for a large gaming blog and has now transitioned over towards the iGaming industry. She helps to ensure that our news pieces are written to the highest standard possible under the guidance of senior management.

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