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BGC raises concerns as poll suggests low support for affordability checks

| By Robert Fletcher
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has urged the British government to take a “balanced” approach when considering proposals for affordability checks on gambling after a report found just 16% of consumers would be open to such processes.

Commissioned by the BGC, the YouGov survey found 58% of punters would not be willing to allow licensed betting and gaming operators to carry out what the trade body called “arbitrary blanket checks”, which would involve accessing information such as bank accounts and wage slips.

The study also found 59% of consumers said such affordability checks could lead to a large or substantial risk of players turning to unlicensed operators, which may not offer the same protection and responsible gambling measures as regulated sites.

In addition, the report found that 51% of all adults surveyed believe increased black market use would lead to a rise in problem gambling, compared to 4% who think it would help reduce the problem gambling rate.

The report comes as the British government continues to work on the Gambling Act Review, which aims to introduce sweeping changes to the Gambling Act 2005. In its initial call for evidence, the government asked questions about the effect of stake limits and universal deposit limits.

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said while that the organisation is in favour of further and enhanced spending checks, the focus should instead be on problem gamblers or those at risk, rather than everyone who bets.

Dugher added that the study should be a “wake-up call” for ministers as they consider the new rules and regulations that could be introduced, saying the government must strike the right balance between protecting the vulnerable and making sure new rules do not drive players who bet safely towards the black market.

“We strongly support the Gambling Review as a once in a generation opportunity to raise standards and promote safer gambling,” Dugher said.

“Ministers have said it will be an evidence-led process, and these findings are a wake-up call showing the potential dangers of introducing blanket affordability checks on anyone who likes a flutter.

“We believe that technology should be used to identify those showing signs of problem gambling so that swift interventions can take place.

“According to the Gambling Commission, the rate of problem gambling fell from 0.6% to 0.3% in the 12 months to September last year. But one problem gambler is one too many.

“Any changes introduced by the government must be balanced so that they rightly protect the vulnerable while not driving the vast majority who bet safely and responsible towards the unsafe black market online, where there are none of the safer gambling measures which are used by BGC members.”

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