Government to ensure affordability checks will 'harmonise' with gambling review

Racing Post
Government to ensure affordability checks will 'harmonise' with gambling review

The government's gambling review was debated in parliament

The UK government appeared on Thursday to give its clearest indication yet that Gambling Commission proposals for affordability checks will be wrapped up into its own ongoing review of gambling legislation.

Minister for gambling and lotteries John Whittingdale told the Commons that any new checks would "harmonise" with the review.

He was speaking at an adjournment debate brought by Scott Benton, the Conservative MP for Blackpool South and chair of the all party parliamentary group for betting and gaming.

A Gambling Commission consultation on remote customer interaction which closed in February had included a proposal that a monthly net gambling loss of as little as £100 would mean punters would have to prove their income in order to continue to bet.

That caused huge concern for British racing's leadership, who warned the sport could lose £60 million a year or more from lost levy and media rights income if punters were put off by intrusive questions about their finances.

Benton described affordability checks as "a deeply flawed concept" and said that there was no evidence to suggest they would reduce problem gambling, only "gambling overall".

Updating MPs on the progress of the gambling review launched last December, Whittingdale said: "We are looking at whether further controls for play online would be effective in preventing gambling harm, including whether greater controls are needed at an account or product level.

John Whittingdale: gambling and lotteries minister

Scott Heavey (Getty Images)

"We are also working closely with the Gambling Commission on its parallel work to improve how operators interact with customers and we will ensure that any new checks that they introduce to increase protections for those who are financially vulnerable, binge gambling or losing significant amounts over time harmonise with the aims of our own review."

Whittingdale described the Gambling Commission as "undergoing a reboot", adding: "Its powers and performance are matters which we are also looking at as part of the review."

On the subject of gambling advertising Whittingdale said it was "too early" to say where the government would end up over the issue, "but we are looking at the evidence very closely indeed".

A government white paper is due by the end of this year.

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