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Gambling Commission considers affordability checks evidence after huge response

Gambling Commission: consultation into affordability checks closed last week
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A significant and telling figure of around 13,000 people have supplied evidence and submissions to the Gambling Commission as part of its consultation into affordability, which closed last week.

Submissions presented to the Gambling Commission include the assertion from one influential think tank that punters should be barely able to detect affordability checks and they should be based on data already held by gambling companies, wherever possible.

The Gambling Commission said on Wednesday that the responses were being assessed, but would not offer a timeline for any outcomes of the consultation.

A Gambling Commission spokesman said: “We have received around 13,000 responses following our consultation and call for evidence. We are now considering those and will then decide upon next steps.”

The critical and controversial issue of affordability checks has been highlighted by racing's leaders, with some estimates that the sport could lose up to £100 million per year in levy and media rights if stricter measures were brought in requiring gamblers to provide evidence, such as bank statements and pay slips, that they could afford to lose as little as £100 a month.

Last week, the BHA, Racecourse Association and Horsemen's Group expressed "deep concerns" about the impact of stringent affordability criteria on those betting online, while the infringement on individual privacy and liberty has also been at the heart of concerns.

In its submission, the Social Market Foundation (SMF) think tank reiterated its calls for a £100 monthly loss threshold for bookmakers to investigate customer spending, but stated it should not be considered a “hard limit” on spending and that the checks should work as an “invisible hand” that is restricted to remote gambling alone.

The SMF, which has previously been vocal in calling for more restrictions on gambling, and believes UK punters who fail strict affordability checks should be limited to £100 a month, argued in its submission that betting firms already held significant amounts of data on customers which can be used to prevent harm arising for problem gambling, and that using this would not be an intrusion into customer freedom.

The report said: “These checks should be a non-intrusive process, and should be based on the data already held and the customer due diligence processes already carried out by most remote operators on their customers.

“Furthermore, the £100 threshold should not be understood as a hard limit on monthly spend. These affordability checks would apply only to remote betting and gaming, not land-based gambling.

“In our report, we remained conscious of the debate about freedom in the market and the so-called ‘nanny state’. Once the threshold is crossed, we argue that enhanced customer due diligence checks should be conducted based on the data which is already held and the processes which are already carried out by individual operators. 

“These checks should be as invisible and non-intrusive to the customer as possible. We envisage the £100 affordability threshold to be an ‘invisible hand’ in the remote gambling marketplace.”

Customer data should be shared with a newly created gambling ombudsman, according to the SMF, which would ultimately have oversight of the area.

Read more

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We have received around 13,000 responses following our consultation and call for evidence
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