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Racecourse bookmakers face licence reviews after underage test failures

The Gambling Commission is reviewing the licences of seven on-course bookmakers
The Gambling Commission is reviewing the licences of seven on-course bookmakers

Seven unnamed racecourse bookmakers are facing licence reviews by the Gambling Commission after allowing a 16-year-old to place a £5 bet during Royal Ascot in June.

Sanctions available to the regulator range from a warning, conditions being placed on their licence, a financial penalty, having their licence suspended or even revoked.

In all, 17 on-course bookmakers at the royal meeting were the subject of age verification test purchasing by officers from the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, supported by the Gambling Commission and Trading Standards.

Gambling Commission executive director Richard Watson said: "These licence reviews show how strongly we feel about underage gambling.

"Every single gambling business must protect children from gambling but the on-course bookmakers' results have remained unacceptable."

Racecourse bookmakers have had repeated warnings from the regulator that they needed to improve their age verification procedures following previous tests at race meetings.

Royal Ascot, where highly visible security kept down the incidences of bad behaviour
Bookmakers at Royal Ascot were the subject of test purchasingCredit: Bryn Lennon (Getty Images)
Watson added: "Despite various educational attempts to raise standards, by ourselves and the trade bodies, the on-course sector has historically performed poorly in both underage gambling test purchase exercises and Think 21 testing.

"Pass rates have failed to meet the standards expected and the sector has consistently performed to levels below those we see in other gambling and age restricted products. By way of example, over the past four years, the on-course sector has a pass rate of around 35 per cent for Think 21 testing.

"We recognise on-course bookmakers are small businesses but we cannot allow them to disregard their responsibility to protect children."

Federation of Racecourse Bookmakers director Robin Grossmith said he hoped the action by the Gambling Commission would act as a "wake-up call" for on-course firms.

Grossmith added: "We are aware of the under-age testing at Royal Ascot. It is disappointing that bookmakers have failed, especially as we operate an educational course for them through Serve Legal.

"Let's hope that this acts as a wake-up call to bookmakers to be more vigilant when suspecting anybody of being under age because we operate a Think 21 policy."

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Bill BarberIndustry editor

Published on 30 July 2019inNews

Last updated 17:59, 29 July 2019