BGC highlights risk of affordability checks

The YouGov survey for the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has revealed that just 16% of those who enjoy a bet would submit themselves to “affordability checks”, which are under consideration as part of the Government’s Gambling Review. In comparison, around 58% said they would not be willing to allow regulated betting and gaming firms implement arbitrary blanket checks, which have been called for by anti-gambling campaigners.

The same poll also found that 59% of punters believe that Government-imposed checks on whether customers can afford to place a bet would lead to a risk of customers turning to unlicensed sites in the black market online. Thousands of illegal gambling websites disregard the strict standards set by the licensed and regulated sector including age verification checks, deposit limits and cooling off periods. 51% of all adults believe that increased black market use will lead to a rise in problem gambling, compared to just 4% who think it would bring down the problem gambling rate.

The BGC is in favour of further enhanced spending checks, but believes the focus should be on problem gamblers or those at risk rather than everyone who bets. According to a report last year by PwC, the number of people using black market sites – which have none of the safer gambling measures found in the regulated sector – has doubled to around 460,000, with billions of pounds being staked.

Michael Dugher, chief executive of the BGC, said: “We strongly support the Gambling Review as a once in a generation opportunity to raise standards and promote safer gambling.

“Ministers have said it will be an evidence-led process, and these findings are a wake up call showing the potential dangers of introducing blanket affordability checks on anyone who likes a flutter.

“We believe that technology should be used to identify those showing signs of problem gambling so that swift interventions can take place.

“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.

“Any changes introduced by the Government must be balanced so that they rightly protect the vulnerable while not driving the vast majority who bet safely and responsible towards the unsafe black market online, where there are none of the safer gambling measures which are used by BGC members.”

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