The UKGC Ends Consultation into Affordability Checks
February 23rd, 2021 4.00pm
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has announced the consultation into affordability checks ended last week.
The regulator revealed that around 13.000 people had taken part in the process by providing submissions and evidence.
The feedback received by the UKGC includes statements made by a prominent think tank. Its stance on the issue is that gambling companies could carry out affordability checks in a manner that wouldn’t bother customers. According to the organisation, these checks should use data operators already have.
Waiting for the Outcome
All the responses sent to the UKGC will be analysed in the coming period, although the country’s gambling watchdog didn’t reveal any details on the timeline. Therefore, we’ll have to wait a bit before the outcome of the consultation is announced.
After the UKGC announced the consultation and called for evidence to be presented, it had received around 13.000 individual responses. It will take some time to process all the information and review the answers. After that, the UKGC will be able to decide what steps it should take in the regulatory process.
Affordability checks have stirred controversy in the UK’s gambling industry since they were first announced. Many leading industry experts argued that the introduction of more rigorous measures could create substantial losses in levy and media rights. Some estimates say these losses could exceed £100 million.
Making Checks Less Detectable
Affordability Checks were first mentioned as an option after some safer gambling advocates called for stricter measures. According to them, operators need to ensure their customers can afford losses of at least £100 on a monthly basis.
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) was the next to share its concerns about the effects of affordability checks, especially when it comes to online betting. The entire racecourse and horsemen sector was worried that stricter regulation could chase the players away. They also claimed the checks represented a violation of individual privacy.
As we’ve already mentioned, the Social Market Foundation (SMF) think tank supported the idea of introducing a cap of £100 on monthly losses at which gambling companies are required to review whether their customers can afford to spend their money. The SMF explained that this limit wasn’t a hard one and insisted it should be enforced only by online gambling operators.
Using Available Information
The SMF has already called for further tightening of the country’s gambling regulations, saying that all those customers that fail to pass affordability checks shouldn’t be allowed to spend more than £100 per month.
Speaking about the concerns that these checks could infringe on privacy, the think tank explained that online gambling operators already had lots of information given to them by customers upon registering. According to the Social Marketing Foundation, the existing data could be used to prevent gambling problems. Most importantly, its implementation wouldn’t pose a risk for customer privacy or cause any harm whatsoever.
The SMF presented its report on the matter, which says the introduction of affordability checks won’t be an intrusive process, especially if they are conducted using the data gambling companies already have on their customers. The think tank also suggested that the recently-established gambling ombudsman took part in the process by overseeing the entire sector, while online gambling operators could share data with him.
Affordability checks are definitely the most controversial proposal currently under discussion. Others have been deemed more sensible and mostly focused on other aspects, such as the recent flood of advertising to which customers are exposed. These checks are part of the government’s plans to overhaul the existing Gambling Act, which has been in effect since 2005.
Many says affordability checks infringe privacy