In light of the Grand National, which is set to launch this weekend, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) urged lawmakers to avoid introducing "intrusive affordability checks." The Grand National is the biggest betting event in the UK for the year.
Set to start this Saturday, this will be the first time in three years the event will be held in person. Back in 2020, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Grand National took the form of a virtual race. Although it was a successful and unique event, the in-person experience is without a doubt on another level.
Last year, the pandemic forced bookmakers and betting shops on high streets around the UK to close during the Grand National. In other words, this year's Grand National will likely attract millions of punters that would like to place bets.
BGC's recent announcement comes at a time while the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) is reviewing the 2005 Gambling Act. The review was launched back in December 2020 due to increasing concerns related to gambling addiction and the exposure of children to gambling advertising.
Initially, the review was expected to be completed by the end of 2021. However, the deadline for the Gambling Act review was extended and now the final white paper is expected this year.
In a statement released on Monday, BGC's CEO, Michael Dugher, acknowledged that millions of people will place bets on the Grand National this weekend. "It is the nation’s punt, the one-time many go and place a bet in their local bookies and enjoy the thrill of horse racing with friends and family," added the Council's CEO.
Dugher said that it is fantastic to see bookmakers on high streets open once again. However, he warned that "there could be a sting in the tail next year if anti-gambling prohibitionists get their way."
Citing research, Dugher explained that punters in the UK may react badly to affordability checks or changes in their experience related to banning promotions. He pointed out that a recent study found that 95% of the bettors wouldn't share their bank details in order to place a wager. Moreover, 86% of the punters said that such affordability checks may result in favor of the black market.
The Council's CEO showed support for solutions that will help protect vulnerable players but stressed that "blanket affordability checks" may impact millions of punters negatively. Ultimately, such checks may result in an increase in the share of the black market and losses of £100 million that may affect the local economies and jobs within the horse racing industry, according to Dugher.
According to the BGC, betting shops around the UK support some 46,000 jobs in the sector. Those shops contribute £1 billion in taxes to the Treasury and £60 million in "business rates to local councils" annually. Furthermore, the BGC pointed out research by ESA Retail that revealed 89% of betting shop customers visit other local businesses as well.
Image credit: Pixabay.com