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GambleAware research suggests public support for UK affordability checks

| By Robert Fletcher
New research from GambleAware suggests more than half of adults in the UK support the introduction of affordability and financial risk checks in gambling.

Ipsos, working with GambleAware, surveyed 4,170 people aged 18 and 75 to harness public opinion on affordability checks. These checks are one of several proposals to come out of the government’s white paper, published in April last year.

It is proposed players who lose £1,000 within 24 hours, or £2,000 over 90 days, would be subject to checks. Operators would also perform “passive” checks on players with a net loss beyond £125 each month or £500 per year.

The proposals have caused much debate in the industry, with arguments for and against such checks. GambleAware has declared its support for such checks and has now published research suggesting the public also backs the proposal.

Of those surveyed, 61% would support “light touch” financial vulnerability checks to identify customers who may be particularly vulnerable. Some 57% also backed “enhanced” checks to be conducted at unusually high loss levels where the risks are greater.

Those experiencing problem gambling have a stronger reaction to the checks. Some 58% in this group support enhanced checks and 54% light touch checks. Furthermore, most adults expect operators to take action or make contact if a consumer fails these checks. 

GambleAware CEO: proactive measures required

“As we continue to see a steady rise in demand for support and treatment services, we are urging the government to ensure there are no missed opportunities when it comes to the instruction of robust preventative measures to tackle this rapidly growing public health issue,” GambleAware CEO Zoë Osmond said.

“It’s imperative that proactive measures are taken to address the root causes of gambling harm. This includes comprehensive education programmes and awareness-raising campaigns, stronger regulations to protect vulnerable populations and sufficient funding for treatment and support services. 

“By prioritising preventative action and ensuring the industry take some responsibility for protecting individuals against unaffordable losses, we can mitigate the detrimental impact of problem gambling on individuals and society as a whole.”

Uncertainty remains over apparent support for checks

However, the study also flagged an element of uncertainty of the proposed checks. There is concern and scepticism over the privacy and effectiveness of checks, with some saying they could be seen as an invasion of privacy. Others flagged worries that people will find a way around these checks.

There is also uncertainty as to the appropriate loss threshold for the checks. Approximately two in five adults were unsure what amount the threshold should be to trigger the checks, irrespective of any timeframe within which the financial checks will be implemented

In relation to this, only a small number of adults say they would be impacted by the checks, based on their gambling over the past 12 months. Only 10% said light touch checks would apply to them, with this dropping to 5% for enhanced checks.

In addition, around one third of those who gambled in the last 12 months said they do not gamble online. This means their gambling would not be flagged by the new, online-focused checks.

Wider concerns

These concerns mirror some of those flagged in a special article by iGB last month

Among the other issues raised by those opposed to the plans are how the proposed loss limits are not realistic. Some have flagged how the current loss amounts are minimal for many punters and it would not be fair to subject them to checks.

There are also worries about carrying out mass checks around major sports events. Some say it is not realistic to expect operators to conduct in-depth checks when so many bettors are active.

In addition, some parties have raised concerns about how these checks could push players to unlicensed sites.  As these websites are not regulated, they are not subject to checks, meaning players can continue to gamble without having to undergo checks. However, these same sites also do not offer the same protection as licensed operators.

Discussions over the proposed affordability checks continue.

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