BGC: Compulsory affordability checks threaten regulated betting industry

BGC: Compulsory affordability checks threaten regulated betting industry - Banner
Charlie Vogelsang
by Charlie Vogelsang Last updated:

A recent study from the EY warned about the potential affordability checks

The regulated betting and gaming industry supports over 110,000 jobs on high streets and even more with the online sector such as casinos and bingo sites. A recent study conducted by the EY for the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has emphasised that compulsory affordability checks threaten the industry itself.

The upcoming White Paper, which has been delayed multiple times, is expected to have a £125 monthly soft cap on affordability with harder checks for players losing £2,000 in three months according to reputable sources. It's the compulsory affordability checks that the EY study points a

Research by EY confirmed that the sector remained robust during the pandemic but is now weathering the energy crisis and the cost of living crisis. The enforcement of tougher affordability checks has contributed to reduced revenues according to the study.

This is backed up by a recent poll showcasing that nearly 70% of people who place bets said they would be unwilling to allow regulated firms to carry out compulsory affordability checks to prove they can afford to wager.

Study warns about the impact of affordability checks

The EY study stated that despite the pressures faced by businesses due to these affordability checks, the BGC members have added £7.1bn to the UK economy. The full contribution to the Treasury from regulated betting and gaming companies remained high at £4.2bn.

EY's study further mentioned: “Online GGY has declined since mid-2021, probably reflecting the re-opening of physical venues, the introduction of affordability checks on online, and the decline in real household incomes.”

The study warned that the impact of affordability checks could push customers to the black market and “could in turn lead to leakage to the black market, i.e. operators offering remote (mainly desktop and mobile) gambling products that do not hold a UK Gambling Commission license for remote gambling.”

Other European countries that have applied tough sanctions to betting (such as restrictions on stakes) as Norway, France and Italy have seen. Norway's black market now accounts for 66% of all money staked, whilst France is at 57% and Italy is at 23%.

Urge the Government to find an evidence-led and balanced White Paper

CEO of the Betting and Gaming Council Michael Dugher, said: “The UK’s regulated betting and gaming sector is a genuine global leader. Some 22.5m adults enjoy a wager, on the lottery, on bingo, on any number of sports, online and in casinos.”

He added: “Our members pump billions into the economy, support the Treasury with more billions and support over one hundred thousand jobs. But this contribution is never guaranteed. This industry needs to thrive if it is to maintain its status as a global leader.”

“As ministers consider the regulatory framework for this industry, they should stop and think, and ensure the decisions they make support a sustainable future,” said Dugher. “This is a sector that is ready to invest, on hard-pressed high streets through bookmakers, in tourism and hospitality through world-class casinos and online where our tech giant members are looking to increase the number of apprentices they hire.”

“We urge the Government to find an evidence-led, balanced White Paper that protects the vulnerable, allows the vast majority who bet safely to continue to do so, and crucially allows business to thrive.”

Uncertainty could lead frustrated customers to the unsafe, unregulated black market

Dugher reiterated that this is an industry "serious about safer gambling" and that the rate of problem gambling amongst UK adults in the UK is low at 0.3%. He added: "We want to see technology used to ensure checks on spending are carefully targeted towards the vulnerable, not the vast majority who show no signs of harm.”

However, without clarification from the Government on affordability checks, the BGC members are "concerned that they are driving frustrated customers to the unsafe, unregulated black market."

He concluded: “These sites have none of the safer gambling tools employed by our members, do nothing to protect young people, don’t invest anything in the sports we love like horse racing, rugby, darts and football and crucially don’t contribute a penny in tax.”