A statement concerning the ongoing review of the 2005 Gambling Act has been issued by Ian Proctor, Chairman of Flutter Entertainment, the bookmaking holding company behind Paddy Power and Betfair.
Proctor acknowledged in the declaration that: “Gambling has gone through a technical transformation over the last 15 years, and the rules have not kept pace.”
The main focus of the statement by Proctor was the affordability issue, which played a key role in the ongoing debate between betting operators and the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) as the 2005 Gambling Act review continues.
“Getting to the right answer on affordability is complex and not without some knotty ethical issues,” the operator continued.
“It requires finding a critical balance which allows us to protect the most vulnerable from potential harm without disproportionately impinging on the personal freedom of the vast majority of the 30 million people who enjoy a gamble in the UK every year.
“In essence, it is about looking at financial vulnerability in combination with a range of factors, to prevent harm.”
‘Affordability Triple Step’
Flutter has created a new structure with regard to the affordability problem, the ‘Affordability Triple Step,’ which identifies three levels of security ‘ensuring we can step in and protect the most vulnerable.’
The first phase in the new system starts with registration, where the bookmaker “applies appropriate spending limits to financial red flag customers.”
Data will be used in the risk-based affordability approach in this first stage, ensuring that some clients do not face ‘unnecessary barriers,’ while others will benefit from existing expenditure caps.
The Chairman argues that an examination of affordability checks must strike a ‘critical balance’ between protecting the vulnerable and infringing on the ‘personal freedom’ of the vast majority’ as 30 million citizens in the UK gamble each year.
Second, through Safer Gambling Controls, Flutter plans to conduct real-time monitoring of bettors. “Our second layer is ongoing and real-time monitoring of all customers through our Safer Gambling Controls,” Proctor commented on this process.
“We’re proud of the progress that’s been made at Flutter, and by the wider industry, to take innovative steps to monitor and protect our customers. Through this we can intervene when we see concerning behaviour.”
The final step of the system revolves around the introduction of a spending backstop if ‘on the rare occasion, the first two layers of protection miss someone at risk of harm.’
Flutter plans to adapt this backstop to the needs of various customers and argues that operators should set it to represent the scope and depth of their customer bases.
As younger customers typically have lower affordability and are at higher risk of gambling-related injury, this demographic will have lower backstops in Proctor’s system.
Critical piece of the puzzle
Concluding his statement, Proctor remarked: “The Affordability Triple-Step could be a critical piece of the puzzle in reducing gambling harm and we believe it is a valuable tool in helping customers know and keep to their limits.
“We have shared some of this thinking with the Gambling Commission and will be including it in our submission to the Gambling Act Review.”
As described above, one of the key issues being addressed during the review into the UK’s gambling laws is affordability and the introduction of tighter affordability tests.
In addition to the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) and some MPs, some bookmakers have expressed concerns that improved affordability checks could drive some customers towards black market operators, as well as lead to substantial losses for the betting and horse racing industries in Britain.