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GamCare questions threshold levels in proposed financial check plans

| By Robert Fletcher
GamCare has welcomed plans to introduce enhanced affordability checks on consumers who gamble online, but questioned the proposed threshold levels for these new checks.
Gambling yield Q4 Britain

Proposed termed financial risk checks were put forward in the Gambling Act review white paper. GamCare says it supports such a move but is advocating for stricter measures.

Current plans include operators carrying out detailed checks on affordability for players who lose £1,000 in 24 hours. Consumers who lose £2,000 over a period of 90 days face the same checks.

Plans also propose that operators perform “passive” checks on players with a monthly net loss beyond £125, or £500 per year. 

Uncertainty over proposed approach to checks

GamCare, a charity that supports those affected by gambling harm in Britain, hails the move as “positive stride towards player safeguarding”. However, after consultation with its Lived Experience Community, it has raised some concerns.

These include the absence of “a single customer view” of all accounts held by a user. The charity says that without such an approach players can create accounts across a number of operators. 

“Players may create numerous accounts across various operators, which is within their rights but could potentially lead to oversight,” GamCare said. “This could result in significant losses going unnoticed until it’s too late.”

Threshold levels concern GamCare

GamCare also spoke of concerns over the threshold levels for checks. It said these would still mean players could lose large sums of money before checks are made.

“For instance, the proposed threshold for a financial risk assessment related to binge activity of more than £1,000 in a rolling 24 hours is too significant an amount to lose before an intervention,” GamCare said.

“If a player was to hold 10 accounts, then they could potentially lose £10,000 in a day before the system intervenes. This is a significant concern. To experience losses this large would be difficult for many.”

GamCare calls for stronger checks

As such, GamCare is urging stronger checks when accounts are opened. This, it says, will allow for proactively addressing potential financial hardship for vulnerable players.  

GamCare says it acknowledges the argument that these checks may drive players towards unlicensed operators. These sites are not approved and do not have to abide by any rules. This means players can deposit and lose unlimited amounts with black market operators.

However, as a counter-argument, GamCare says evidence supporting this displacement is far from clear. It adds that if the checks are as unintrusive as planned, then the incentive to shift to illegal operators is much reduced. 

“There needs to further research in understanding the implications in people turning to the illegal market,” GamCare said.

“It is hard to deny that formalising the process and setting out exact figures for financial vulnerability checks remains a daunting task, but it’s a necessary one. Our Lived Experience Community tell us this, so as these proposals move forward, we will continue to advocate for maximising player protections wherever possible.”

Debate over affordability checks continues

The subject has proved one of the most controversial talking points to emerge from the white paper. GamCare is the latest stakeholder to voice its opinion on the issue of affordability checks.

A minor controversy erupted in September, when Commission executive director Tim Miller suggested during an appearance at the DCMS gambling regulation select committee that punter postcodes would influence these checks.

In a recent speech, Commission chief Andrew Rhodes hit back at what he called “misinformation” in the media about affordability checks.

This month, Labour party peer and chair of Premier Greyhound Racing Lord Lipsey also slammed the proposed checks for their potential effects on greyhound racing.

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