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FeatureAffordability: Your Stories

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

Lewis Porteous talks to punter Mike who fears he may be forced to quit the sport

In a new series, we speak to Post readers and racing fans about the impact affordability checks are having. Here, Lewis Porteous talks to experienced punter Mike

A former managing director of a successful engineering company fears he will soon be forced to turn his back on 54 years as a punter because bookmaker affordability checks and account restrictions are making it almost impossible for him to place a bet. 

Mike, who retired three years ago, asked for his surname not to be used but the 72-year-old describes himself as being in a financially secure situation, yet has been limited to losing £500 each month by the remaining bookmakers who will take his money. 

Considering he turned over as much as £1.5 million annually on gambling for the last 15 years, the goalposts haven't so much been moved but taken down altogether. 

"That sounds a lot but you can do that with the same thirty or forty grand," he said. "If you're having a lot of bets on the same day, you can go through £15,000 on a Saturday but you may not have won or lost. 

"It was approximately 12 months ago that I seemed to have my main two accounts closed because I wouldn't hand over any bank statements. I've opened others since but, once you've punted fairly big for a fortnight, someone phones you up and starts asking you loads of personal questions and then they want your bank statements." 

Knowing the next request for financial information is never far away is eroding Mike's enjoyment of having a bet and he fears the end game will be one of ruin for the wider racing and betting industry. 

"The bookmakers I'm still betting with have restricted me to losing £500 in a month," he said. "When a person who would place bets of £1,000 or £2,000 a day or bigger is restricted to that, they're basically saying they don't want me to bet with them anymore or, if I want to bet, I'll have to lower my stakes. It's supposed to be a free society but this feels like a game they play with you and it's doing my head in. 

"Who the hell came up with this idea in the first place? It must be a small minority who don't like gambling and they've decided to destroy the gambling industry, and the government – as daft as they are – have taken it all. It seems ridiculous to me."   

According to proposals set out by the Gambling Commission, the second tier of financial checks planned would be triggered by losses in excess of £1,000 within a rolling 24 hours or £2,000 within 90 days and Mike cannot see how any reasonable-sized bettor could possibly avoid them. 

"That brings every larger punter in the country into the equation," he added. "Where they [the Gambling Commission] get that it will affect just three per cent of punters I don't know. It's probably going to be more like 40 per cent, which will represent the majority of betting turnover [on British racing]." 

Mike expects his only option to bet legally at the level he wants to will be to attend more race meetings but, having suffered two heart attacks and struggling with joint disease, that is not a realistic proposition. 

He said: "They're basically saying one of the last enjoyments you've got, you can't do it anymore. I'm not sad, I'm just amazed it's happened – it's attacking people in society. 

"It's older people like me that I keep reading about. We're retired, so even if bookmakers ask for proof of earnings you haven't got any. I told one bookmaker I have a lot of savings in the bank and that's what I live on. They said, 'Savings don't count, it's only income we're concerned with'. So a person could have, say, £3m in the bank and they don't take that into consideration and appreciate they can put bets of £2,000 and £3,000 on. That's just ridiculous to me – we're the people who are most important to horseracing and the levy. 

"Which intelligent person brought that idea into the equation? I asked if they phone JP McManus and ask him the same because, on that basis, they should be." 

  • 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:

'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 31 August 2023Last updated 18:13, 31 August 2023