DCMS responds to affordability checks petition, recognises “enormous value” of horseracing
The government is obliged to respond to any petition which exceeds 10,000 signatures. At 100,000 signatures, the petition must be legally considered for a debate in parliament.
In its written response to the petition, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) reiterated several previously argued points around the frictionless nature of the proposed checks.
“We are committed to a proportionate, frictionless system of financial risk checks, to protect those at risk of harm without overregulating,” it said.
Both the government and the Gambling Commission (UKGC) recognise concerns over the checks, it added.
The government and UKGC agree that the new system “should not unduly disrupt the millions of people who gamble without suffering harm, and should not cause unnecessary damage to sectors which rely on betting, in particular horseracing,” it said.
DCMS also suggested that the proposals will represent a “significant improvement” for businesses and customers alike when compared to the current situation.
At present, it argued, operators are applying “inconsistent” affordability checks on customers, often without clearly explaining why, and requiring customers to provide data to them manually.
The government has “challenged operators to be more transparent with customers in the interim,” it said, but the industry will benefit from the introduction of clearly defined rules by which all operators must abide.Further, the proposed system will allow financial data to be “shared seamlessly with operators instead of burdening customers with information requests,” it added.
It also insisted that the government and UKGC will not mandate the proposed checks “until we are sure that they will be frictionless” for the vast majority of customers checked.
In its response, DCMS also pointed to the “important link between betting and horseracing” raised by the petition.
The government recognises the “enormous value of horseracing,” it said, both as a spectator sport and through its contribution to the UK economy.
It pointed to previously published estimates from the Gambling Act review white paper, which suggested financial risk checks would reduce online horseracing betting yield by between 6% and 11%.
That, in turn, would reduce the income of the racing industry by between £8.4m and £14.9m annually, it said, or around 0.5%-1% of its total income.
The drop in income would come about via a reduction in levy, media rights and sponsorship returns, it said, but the government is “working with racing and refining that estimate”.
It has also “commenced a review of the Horserace Betting Levy to ensure a suitable return to the sport for the future,” it added.
Both the government and UKGC continue to work with the industry to ensure checks can be implemented in an effective but proportionate way, the response said.
They are also “exploring the role of pilots or phased implementation to help ensure this.”
The UKGC is expected to set out more detailed plans related to the checks in due course.