UK Conservative MP Laurence Robertson has spoken out over the proposals for affordability checks in the UK gambling industry, which he says could have a devastating impact on racing.
The new affordability checks are under consideration in a consultation run by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) that closed on Tuesday. If they are introduced, the new regulations could force betting companies to carry out affordability checks if a customer experiences a monthly net loss of £100.
Robertson, who works as a parliamentary adviser to the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), has said British racing would not be able to survive if the financial assistance it receives from the betting industry was lost. The MP for Tewkesbury has Cheltenham Racecourse in his constituency and has pointed to the UK horse racing industry receiving £350 million a year from the betting industry.
In a statement to the UKGC, Robertson said that any reduction in this level of racing income as a result of betting customers being diverted to the black market, or being put off betting on racing altogether would be a disaster for the sport. He went on to outline the twin threat of the measure:
“While the unintended consequences may manifest in the form of a devastating impact on sport, such as racing, another is generating consumer harm through driving customers to sites which will not make these onerous requests upon them.”
Regarding the black market, Robertson said that increased regulation could drive UK customers towards operators who have no safety checks, and once they had left the regulated industry, it would not be possible to protect them. He concluded by asking the UKGC to work with the betting industry to establish an approach that was based on risk analysis and not arbitrary limits.
British horse racing leaders have also spoken out about the proposed regulations, claiming the sport would lose as much as £60 million in media rights and a reduced levy if bettors are deterred from betting on the sports due to increased red tape.
In their submission, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) said that they supported gambling regulation that was fit for the modern digital age and which helped to reduce gambling-related harm, but said that changes must be evidence-based and should account fully for the potential impact on industries such as the racing sector. The BHA also said that they were aware of the concern on the part of many racing customers who enjoy betting safely and responsibly.
In addition, the Jockey Club Chief Executive Nevin Truesdale along with Arena Racing Company (ARC) Chief Executive Martin Cruddace have estimated that the losses to the industry could amount to £100 million.