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Kyamil Nasuf February 13, 2023 3 min read
UKGC Vows to Strike Balance in Introduction of Affordability Checks
Andrew Rhodes said that the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) hasn’t instructed operators to conduct intrusive affordability checks
The topic of how these checks have affected gamblers and the industry overall has been making headlines for weeks now. There were many stories where punters were being required to submit personal financial information, and some were so reluctant, they claim they’d rather turn to the black market.
Confusion Around Affordability Checks
Andrew Rhodes is the chief executive of the UGGC, and he was cited in a Racing Post report saying that the Commission hasn’t pressured operators into these intrusive affordability checks. Many people from both sides – operators, as well as gamblers – were complaining about them, and Rhodes was adamant that this is not what the Commission wants.
Rhodes said that the operators were required to have some systems in place to limit harm to people who might be at risk. He added that operators were not required to ask customers for paychecks or bank notes. However, he also clarified that the systems that operators must have in place have to be focused on managing risk.
While this might be construed as somewhat ambivalent, Rhodes focused on the positive side of any type of action by the operators in this context, which is limiting harm and making the industry more sustainable. He was also sympathetic to the people’s reluctance on providing such personal information, while also clarifying that the UKGC was looking into implementing less intrusive checks.
Although Rhodes hasn’t said it in plain words, many still assume that affordability checks will be implemented in UK’s long-delayed gambling reforms. It seems as if the Commission is trying to distance itself from the resentment of how these checks are currently being conducted while also agreeing that they should be in place in some form.
Old Story but with New Arguments
The reason affordability checks were put under the spotlight wasn’t only that gamblers or operators were complaining, though. Politicians blasted affordability checks as well, with Philip Davies opining that the UKGC is running rampant with its stringent requirements. Furthermore, many opponents of the checks said that these checks are driving people to the black market.
Rhodes addressed that as well. He said that he did not agree with the notion that improving the regulated market shouldn’t be stopped because it could drive consumers toward illegal operations. He has suggested this before when he again called for less intrusive interventions and striving for a more granular and friction-free process of limiting harm with affordability checks. Rhodes also spoke about this during his recent speech at the International Casino Exhibition (ICE) 2023 in London, where he gave multiple examples of people betting beyond their means. He outlined that the Commission’s focus is to limit harm, and – again – strengthened the notion that the UKGC supports affordability checks. It seems the UKGC doesn’t support the current intrusive implementation either.