Although the British Horseracing Authority welcomed the news of the Gambling Act White Paper earlier on Thursday, they intend to minimise the inconvenience of proposed affordability checks on lower-level gambling spend as much as possible.
The paper proposes a £125-threshold net loss within a month or £500 within a year and also states that the checks will be ‘frictionless for customers and conducted online by credit reference agencies’.
BHA Chief Executive Julie Harrington said, “The numbers around the less intrusive checks, the £125, are much lower [than anticipated], but it depends on the big unknown for us.
“The work we will do with the Gambling Commission on behalf of the government is how unintrusive and friction-free those checks are. The one area we want to get visibility on to see how much of a risk it is to us is those friction-free tests at the lower end of losses.”
The Gambling Act White Paper estimated that racing would lose anywhere from £8.4 million and £14.9 million a year as a result of the proposal.
Harrington added, “The government’s own economic impact work is estimating between £8.4 and £14.9 million negative impact per annum.
“We want to work with our partners in the media rights companies to do our own economic check on those numbers. We’re a little concerned that it might be an underestimation.”
However, that was not the only concern the BHA expressed, and Harrington noted that the organisation is also aiming to ensure that seasonal gamblers are not unduly penalised.
“Part of our conversations with the Gambling Commission has got to be taking into account customer behaviour and historic customer behaviour shows that people do save up for those major festivals in the same way that other people would save up for holiday,” Harrington said.
“We’ve got a huge amount of evidence on that to share with the Gambling Commission. The wording is also around net losses, so we know some of our customers might use their winnings from a major festival to fund their punting for the remainder of the year–how will those checks take that into account?
“Particularly the 90-day threshold, you could still be losing money in July that you won in March. It’s a detail that we need to get some context on.”