Call For Gambling Commission To Rethink Betting

Because of the financial effect on horse racing, a template letter to MPs, the author of which is not yet known, has called on lawmakers to urge the Gambling Commission to reconsider its current betting examination.

Gambling legislation

The sport is likely to suffer a heavy blow from proposed gambling legislation, in the form of a possible loss of £ 60 million, at a time when the sector is still struggling as a result of financial difficulties associated with COVID-19.

As reported in The Guardian, the letter focuses in particular on the effect that affordability tests for gamblers could have on the monetary situation of horse racing. The UK’s 59 racecourses are expected to forward the letter to MPs.

Proposed amendments to legislation rescheduled

Owing to the body experiencing ‘high engagement’ since the consultation started in November, the Gambling Commission’s deadline for input on proposed amendments to its legislation has been rescheduled to 9 February.

The conditions for carrying out affordability tests on consumers are increasingly likely to be imposed under the new rules, with the Commission reporting that a loss of £ 100 a month is being touted as the ‘lowest possible threshold.’

The letter’s author argued that ‘skill-based’ betting on horse racing should be separated from online casino gambling items, such as slots and virtual table-based games, as it is less likely to cause addictive gambling activities.

It also argues that the fixtures and scheduling of British racing are ‘designed to provide a fair, safe and compelling betting product that has both stood the test of time and evolved with society’.

£60 million in direct losses

A large part of the letter printed in The Guardian reads: “I am reliably informed that the proposals put forward by the Gambling Commission could result in more than £60 million in direct losses to the British racing industry from reduced Horserace Betting Levy and media rights income. This would be amplified many times over through the wider rural economy and potentially lead to racecourses closing.

“The Gambling Commission’s proposed action would be disproportionate to the small number of people who suffer harm from betting on racing, as well as being a very significant invasion on personal liberty in the free society in which we live. At a time when racing and the British economy are trying to recover from COVID-19, a rushed intervention like this would also significantly set back recovery.

“Naturally, I have grave concerns about this and would welcome your support in calling for the Gambling Commission to rethink introducing this measure, ensure it is evidence-based and, at the very least, ensure that the decision-making process aligns with the government’s recently launched review of the Gambling Act.”

BHA refrains from commenting

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) did not comment on the letter, as it is assumed that the officials of the organization are still reviewing and examining the possible financial effect that reforms could have.

Nevertheless, the Racecourse Association Chief Executive, David Armstrong, said: “We’ve done this on a few other issues, including at some points during the COVID crisis, where we do ask our MPs to help us, MPs with racecourses or training yards in their constituencies, we often ask them for help in this way.”

Defending the ongoing review of the regulations of the industry, a spokesman for the Gambling Commission said: “Whilst some operators have continued to improve their customer interaction processes, our evidence shows that many online operators are not setting thresholds for action at appropriate levels. 

“They are not taking the appropriate action or acting quickly enough when they do identify risks of potential harm. We are clear on the need for gambling companies to take further action and our consultation proposes that the Commission sets firm requirements to ensure consistent standards. 

“But we want to have an open discussion with the gambling industry, consumers, people with lived experience and other stakeholders, to ensure we strike the right balance between allowing consumer freedom and ensuring that there are protections in place to prevent gambling harm.”