Recently, reports have emerged that British gamblers and bettors are being asked to submit financial assessments at the behest of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). However, Andrew Rhodes, the Chief Executive Officer of the gaming regulatory body, has dismissed such claims as “nonsense”. During a speech at the World Regulatory Briefing at ICE, he made it clear that the Commission is not requesting blanket affordability checks, yet it is still the responsibility of the operators to assess the financial stability of their players.
Rhodes downplayed the notion that any form of affordability check would be detrimental to the gaming industry, even though statistics from YouGov, which the UKGC frequently uses for research, have indicated otherwise. There has been an increasing number of reports of bettors being asked to provide documents such as bank statements and tax records, not just of themselves but also of their family and friends. According to Rhodes, this is the responsibility of the operators, not the UKGC, as operators need to have systems in place to identify people who may be at risk of harm.
Despite this, the UKGC has imposed fines and settlements on various operators for not properly abiding by their regulations. This has caused operators to become more stringent with their players, in order to avoid such financial penalties. The gambling industry in the UK has been experiencing a decrease in revenue, yet Rhodes denies that this is due to stricter regulations.
The UK government has been experiencing a lot of changes in the past year, which have caused delays in the presentation of the gambling white paper. The latest cabinet reshuffles have caused speculation of yet another delay, as both Michelle Donelan and Paul Scully, two politicians who are in favor of sensible gambling, have moved to the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT). With no gambling minister in the DCMS, the possibility of a delay is almost certain. Despite the government’s assurance that the white paper is forthcoming, pessimism is growing that it will be released before the parliamentary recess in March.