Betting firms warn affordability checks chipping at revenues
Betting firms have called on the government to publish the long-awaited gambling white paper after a new study finds affordability checks are already chipping at revenues.
Research by accounting giant EY for the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), the industry body that represents over 90 per cent of the sector, said enforcement of tougher affordability checks have already contributed to reduced margins, even before any government review has been published.
In expectation of government limits on spending, BGC members have started applying more stringent checks and taking extra precaution, the study said.
The figures suggest that 25 per cent of betting shops have closed since March 2019, or more than 2,000 sites, with thousands of job losses,
Entain chief exec Jette Nygaard-Andersen told analysts in October that the affordability checks it had introduced at the request of the Gambling Commission were having a “material impact” on sites like Ladbrokes.
She said this was worsened about the ongoing uncertainty about the white paper, which was due to be published in the spring.
The boss of Flutter Entertainment, which owns brands like Paddy Power and Betfair, also said the continuing delays were “disappointing”.
EY warned combined pressures of affordability checks and cost of living concerns could “lead to leakage to the black market, i.e. operators offering remote (mainly desktop and mobile) gambling products that do not hold a UK Gambling Commission license for remote gambling.”
BGC chief Michael Dugher said: “Our members pump billions into the economy, support the Treasury with more billions and support over one hundred thousand jobs.
But this contribution is never guaranteed. This industry needs to thrive if it is to maintain its status as a global leader.”
In an interview with City A.M. earlier this year, Dugher said: “In the end the government has to decide whether it treats gambling like tobacco, which it regards as ‘universally and intrinsically harmful’. Or do they view it like alcohol where they see it as something that millions of people do and can do safely”.
Today he calls for ministers to produce an “evidence-led, balanced White Paper” that would protect the most vulnerable.
Culture secretary Michelle Donelan has promised a white paper would be released in a matter of weeks.