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FeatureAffordability: Your Stories

'I've been betting for more than 40 years but people like me are just going to disappear'

Lewis Porteous talks to John Hosler about the impact of affordability checks

In this series, we speak to Post readers and racing fans about the impact affordability checks are having. Here, Lewis Porteous talks to former on-course bookmaker John Hosler

John Hosler, a former betting shop owner and on-course bookmaker, believes the government is playing a "very dangerous game" with the future of British racing at stake as intrusive affordability checks threaten to drive the sport's core customers away for good.

While the British government's white paper on gambling reform rubber stamped the need for bookmakers to apply 'enhanced financial risk assessments' to customers in April, it promised to moderate their impact on ordinary bettors.

However, the reality set out last month in the Gambling Commission's consultation document on affordability checks left far more punters facing up to the prospect of being asked to hand over personal details about their finances, with many bettors – big and small – already subjected to intrusive checks by bookmakers.

Hosler, who described himself as no more than a moderate gambler who enjoys small-stake multiples, is among those to have been asked for personal information and has subsequently had the amount he can bet restricted by bookmakers. As a result, he says he feels increasingly distant from a sport that has played a major part in his life.

"I've got a good pension and live in a house worth almost £1 million but I'm not going to send over my bank statements and let people see how much pension I get and what I spend my money on. It's not right," said Hosler, from Maldon in Essex.

Owner Phil Cunningham (right) with trainer Richard Spencer
Phil Cunningham (right): John Hosler agrees with what the owner had to say about affordability checks

When everyday bettors like Hosler walk away from British racing the entire industry suffers.

"It's a domino effect," he added. "I've stopped punting, so what's the point in having Racing TV and Sky Sports Racing? It's not only going to have an impact on prize-money, everyone is going to suffer.

"What Phil Cunningham said was spot on. Owners are already paying £2,500 a month to have a horse in training and if you win a race you'd be lucky to get that. What this is going to do is direct more people to the black market to bet and that money is not going back into racing, prize-money or the welfare of horses after they finish their careers.

"I fear for British racing's future. The white paper has tarred everyone with the same brush as compulsive gamblers who can't control themselves. That's ridiculous."

Without betting, the thrill of watching live racing has been taken away for Hosler, who finds he is no longer rushing to the television to watch the big races on a Saturday.

"The sad thing is I'm starting not to miss it," he said. "Saturday afternoon now I'm going to a fete and I never thought in a million years that would be the case.

"You need your core customers but if you're going to limit them to £200 a month, they're going to go elsewhere. I've been betting for more than 40 years but people like me are just going to disappear."

  • To complete the Gambling Commission's consultation on affordability checks, visit and follow the instructions.
  • The Racing Post also wants to hear from you: What has been your experience of affordability checks since the white paper was published at the end of April, and what do you think of the government's proposals? Have affordability checks affected your betting behaviour?
  • It's a chance for your voice to be heard. Email the Racing Post at with the subject 'Affordability checks' to share your experiences, your thoughts about the government's proposals, and your contact details.

Your stories of affordability checks:

'I sent my tax calculation, savings account and valuation of stocks and shares - and it did me no good whatsoever' 

'All of a sudden you're being made to feel guilty for having a flutter. Why can't it be taken as an enjoyment?' 

'Who the hell came up with this idea in the first place? It must be a small minority who don't like gambling' 

'Having a bet is part of ownership and it has just got more and more difficult' 

'My everyday life is shattered - these implementations will destroy my life and it's to appease a minority' 

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Published on 11 September 2023Last updated 18:17, 11 September 2023