FEWER THAN ONE IN FIVE PUNTERS WILLING TO LET BETTING COMPANIES CARRY OUT STRICT ‘AFFORDABILITY’ CHECKS AMID BLACK MARKET WARNING
Fewer than one in five punters would be willing to let betting companies access their bank accounts or wage slips in order to have a flutter, a new poll has revealed.
The YouGov survey for the Betting and Gaming Council revealed that just 16 per cent of those who enjoy a bet would submit themselves to so-called “affordability checks”, which are under consideration as part of the Government’s Gambling Review.
By contrast, some 58 per cent said they would not be willing to allow regulated betting and gaming firms to carry out the arbitrary blanket checks, which have been called for by anti-gambling campaigners.
The same poll also found that 59 per cent of punters believe that Government-imposed checks on whether customers can afford to place a bet would lead to a large or substantial risk of customers using unlicensed sites in the unsafe black market online instead.
These are thousands of illegal gambling websites that don’t adhere to the strict standards in the licensed and regulated sector.
This includes targeting problem gamblers, not carrying out strict ID and age verification checks or offering the range of safer gambling tools provided by BGC members, like deposit limits and cooling off periods.
In addition, the poll found that more than half – 51 per cent – of all adults believe that increased black market use will lead to a rise in problem gambling, compared to just 4 per cent who think it would bring down the problem gambling rate.
The findings were revealed as ministers continue the ongoing Gambling Review, with a white paper due in the spring.
Regulated operators already intervene where customers are displaying signs of problem gambling or that they may be at risk.
The BGC is in favour of further enhanced spending checks, but believes the focus should be on problem gamblers or those at risk rather than everyone who bets.
According to a report last year by PwC, the number of people using black market sites – which have none of the safer gambling measures found in the regulated sector – has doubled to around 460,000, with billions of pounds being staked.
Michael Dugher, chief executive of the BGC, said that the YouGov polling was a “wake up call” for ministers as they prepare to publish the gambling white paper.
He urged the Government to ensure they strike the right balance between protecting the vulnerable while not driving the overwhelming majority who bet safely and responsibly towards the unsafe black market online.
Mr Dugher said: “We strongly support the Gambling Review as a once in a generation opportunity to raise standards and promote safer gambling.
“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 per cent to 0.3 per cent 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.”