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Checking affordability: GC Chief dismisses fears of black markets

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Andrew Rhodes, the chief executive of GC, dismissed again arguments that “intrusive affordability checks” would lead customers to black markets.

Andrew Rhodes – the chief executive of the Gambling Commission (GC) – addressed the biggest gathering ever of leaders in the industry on the 8th November.

Rhodes, amidst conflict with stakeholder across the UK gambling landscape, outlined the challenges facing the industry with the implementation the Government’s Gambling Act Review White paper.

Polarisation of affordability

Rhodes, who acknowledged the growing polarization within the industry as a regulator independent of the government, wanted to reiterate the impartiality and independence of the Commission.

We have clearly defined statutory goals and responsibilities. “We don’t care about commercial interests, but this doesn’t mean that we ignore the commercial reality,” said he.

The debate about gambling was extremely difficult to participate in over the last year. We challenged those who misrepresented the statistics, and tried to provide some evidence and balance to their arguments.

Everyone has a right to an opinion but what’s been going on is not uplifting. “I am not certain (it) helps anyone,” said the man.

Rhodes previously brought to light the controversy that has erupted in some sections of the media over the approach taken by the government towards gambling reform. He drew particular attention to “deliberately misinformation… intended to muddy waters of debate, and torpedo implementation of government policies.”

Rhodes then went on to describe the progress that has been made in the past 12 months toward eliminating the worst cases of gambling-related harm. This is, according to the Commission, a good example of how collaborating with industry can lead to positive outcomes.

The risks of the black market are “overstated”.

Rhodes is of the opinion that despite the “intrusiveness” in the affordability checks, the risks are overstated. “That doesn’t mean that there are no risks, I have stated this many times.” This does not mean that there are no issues.

I hear a number of examples that you give, but it is important to make them actionable. “I am truly grateful to all those who provided us with confidential information, as it has been helpful in this field.”

Rhodes said that the key is to strike a balance between growth in the industry and sustainability for the client.

He said that this was a call to arms to the industry, to come together to navigate the shifting legislative landscape.

N special treatment for racing

Horse racing in the UK is not subject to special taxation

Rhodes has warned the racing industry that it will not be treated differently despite the “exceptionally bitter and difficult debates” of the last year.

He said that DCMS was responsible for advising or considering the implications of a sport’s wider impact.

The CEO of The Jockey Club Nevin Truesdale made this statement as a petition opposing affordability checks reached 70,000 signatures.

Rhodes cited the Patterns Of Play research to counter the resistance of the horseracing sector towards the affordability check. According to the report, 70.4% of gross gambling income (GGY) is accounted for by the top one percent.

He concluded that horseracing is dependent on the money that operators lose through gambling, and that 70 percent of this money comes from bettors who are five times smaller.

In other words, “the call is being made for unrestricted and literally unlimited gambling losses in a particular sport to help support its growth and continued existence.”

Moving Forward

Rhodes, in describing the vision of the Commission, confirmed that UKGC was currently developing a new corporate strategy for three years. It is due to be released next spring and will “focus on communication clearly and building strong partnerships”.

Rhodes concluded his remarks by highlighting the achievements of the gambling industry in the past 12 months. If we all work together, it will ultimately lead to better regulations, more positive outcomes, and safer, fairer and crime-free gaming across Great Britain.

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