‘Affordability checks’ could be rolled out for vulnerable punters betting online

Now players face a resource test if they suffer huge losses: ‘Affordability checks’ could be rolled out for vulnerable punters betting online

  • Government sources have confirmed the controls proposed as part of the long-awaited overhaul of gambling industry rules
  • Sources also insisted that the vast majority of bettors would not be affected by the new rules
  • Checks would not apply to bets at bookmakers’ street shops or at racetracks
  • But last night game industry chiefs sounded the alarm over ‘intrusive Big Brother controls’

Problem gamblers who rack up losses will be asked to prove they can afford to continue betting under tough new rules that are being considered.

Government sources confirmed last night that ‘affordability checks’ for vulnerable punters betting online are likely to be offered as part of a long-awaited overhaul of gambling industry rules.

They dismissed ‘scaremongering’ that it would involve ‘having to provide a payslip to put a ten on a horse at Cheltenham’. The sources also insisted that the “vast majority” of bettors would not be affected by the new rules – only those whose online losses “run into the thousands”.

Checks would not apply to bets at bookmakers’ street shops or at racetracks. But last night gambling industry chiefs sounded the alarm over ‘intrusive Big Brother controls’ that would lead punters into the ‘dangerous and unregulated online black market’.

Government sources confirmed last night that ‘affordability checks’ for vulnerable punters betting online are likely to be offered as part of a long-awaited overhaul of gambling industry rules.

It was also feared that the vast majority of betting customers would refuse to share personal financial documents with bookmakers.

A long-delayed white paper on the game is now expected to be unveiled in the coming weeks by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

DCMS ministers are expected to propose a new statutory levy on the industry to fund help for problem gamblers. However, some claim that with the betting industry paying £4.5billion in tax a year, the Treasury is resisting the proposals.

Clubs ‘will be hit by ban on betting logos’

Betting companies would be banned from sponsoring Premier League football club shirts under proposals which are now “under consideration”.

Government sources have confirmed that the ban is being seriously considered as part of the gambling white paper which is expected to be published in the coming weeks.

Nine of the 20 Premier League clubs this season have betting companies as shirt front sponsors, along with six other Championship sides.

The sponsorship deals are said to be worth £100million a year.

Last year, a study found that all but one Premier League club have partnered with betting companies in some way, as have 15 Championship sides.

A review of the Gambling Act 2005 was launched by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in December 2020.

The white paper, which was originally due to come out last year, could also call for betting company logos to be banned from Premier League club shirts.

But the most ambitious proposal would be a new industry-wide verification system to determine whether problem gamblers can afford the losses they incur online, as well as where the money came from if they continued to finance these losses.

At Westminster last week, Labor activist and MP Carolyn Harris proposed that anyone who loses £100 or more a month online should be subject to an affordability check.

She said it would not affect the ‘vast majority of players’ as losses were well below the £100 figure. However, in a speech last December, Gambling Minister Chris Philp poured cold water on the figure, saying: ‘Requiring payslips or bank statements from every customer spending around £100 is likely to be intrusive, disruptive and disproportionate to the risks.

The Mail on Sunday understands that the limit for accessibility checks will be set well above that figure. A well-placed source said: “£100 is too little – we’re talking about whether people start losing thousands. It will be launched at a relatively high level where the vast majority of people will not be affected.

The source declined to say how online accessibility checks would be enforced.

He said, “It might not be payslips, it might be something else.” One proposal could involve credit reference checks where betting companies search for county court judgments, insolvency records and payday loan details without the customer’s knowledge.

They would then rank online bettors by risk category.

Last night Michael Dugher – chief executive of industry body the Betting and Gaming Council – said: ‘The industry is behind big change. [betting] the offers will only lead bettors to the dangerous and unregulated online black market.

“And they also put at risk the billions paid into the public purse by regulated operators.”

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