Affordability checks could drive players to unregulated sites, warns the Gambling Business Group (GBG).
In November 2020, the UKGC announced a consultation related to plans to act on information related to consumer vulnerability.
Recommendations included affordability checks and other measures that operators would need to adhere to – such as deposit limits.
“This is prohibition by another name”
Commenting on the possibility of deposit limits, GBG Chief Executive Peter Hannibal had the following to say.
“I would like to stress from the outset that although the Gambling Commission’s affordability proposal has been framed in relation to online players, it would be naïve in the extreme to assume that the principles and philosophy will not be extended to all gambling entertainment activities across all verticals including adult gaming centres, licensed betting offices and bingo clubs in some shape or form.
“Currently the demand to play on unregulated sites is limited but the unintended and I assume unforeseen consequences of affordability checks will be to create such a market and then to sustain it.
“Make no mistake, this is prohibition by another name and wherever you look in the world prohibition has never worked and will never work, more than often creating exactly the set of problems that it sets out to address.”
Hannibal calls on DCMS to assess proposals before they go live
Towards the end of 2020, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced that it had begun reviewing the 2005 Gambling Act.
Hannibal said that he had contacted the governing body last month, urging them to think before implementing any changes.
The GBC Chief Executive also argued that the UKGC’s new measure proposals are “illogical” for the time that the review is being carried out.
“The affordability proposal raises a huge range of quite fundamental ethical, legal and practical issues – not least a precedent for state intervention in consumer spending alongside a quite startling presumption that gambling entertainment, enjoyed responsibly by 99% of consumers, represents a public health issue way beyond that of tobacco, excessive alcohol consumption or obesity.
“As such, it merits much deeper, evidence-based scrutiny.”
New study suggests that flexibility may be important
A new study commissioned by GambleAware has found that giving players the choice to set limits may be a better route forward than mandatory deposit limits.
A series of experiments were carried out to see which boxes led to players depositing more or less.
The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) found that players who were given a choice to type in how much they want to deposit, rather than pick from pre-decided amounts, ended up depositing less.