BHA chief Julie Harrington eager to ensure unintrusive affordability checks
The British Horseracing Authority intends to ensure the affordability checks on lower-level gambling spend are as unobtrusive as proposed in the government's Gambling Act Review White Paper. The paper proposes that the threshold for these checks is £125 net loss within a month or £500 within a year and also states that the checks will be 'frictionless for customers and conducted online by credit reference agencies'. Julie Harrington, chief executive of the BHA, felt the nature of these checks was crucial to their success and that their practical implication would decide how much of an impact they would have on racing's revenue. She said: "The numbers around the less intrusive checks, the £125, are much lower (than anticipated), but it depends on the big unknown for us. "The work we will do with the Gambling Commission on behalf of the government is how unintrusive and friction-free those checks are. "The one area we want to get visibility on to see how much of a risk it is to us is those friction-free tests at the lower end of losses." Harrington was concerned that the paper's estimation of the financial losses racing will suffer as a result of the measure was an underestimation, with a total reduction in income between £8.4 and £14.9 million the predicted sum. "The government's own economic impact work is estimating between £8.4 and £14.9 million negative impact per annum," she said. "We want to work with our partners in the media rights companies to do our own economic check on those numbers. We're a little concerned that it might be an underestimation."
Another factor the BHA intend to raise with the Gambling Commission is the seasonal nature of racing gambling, with punters likely to stake and potentially lose more when the big festivals are under way. This could bring a customer who is not a habitual gambler close to the threshold for enhanced checks and the BHA has data to share to highlight these patterns among those who bet on racing. "Part of our conversations with the Gambling Commission has got to be taking into account customer behaviour and historic customer behaviour shows that people do save up for those major festivals in the same way that other people would save up for holiday," Harrington said. "We've got a huge amount of evidence on that to share with the Gambling Commission. The wording is also around net losses, so we know some of our customers might use their winnings from a major festival to fund their punting for the remainder of the year - how will those checks take that into account? "Particularly the 90-day threshold, you could still be losing money in July that you won in March. It's a detail that we need to get some context on."
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