Industry experts and data show that consumer spending is expected to rise ahead of Cheltenham. However, affordability checks could impact horse racing’s most anticipated event.
Today is the beginning of Cheltenham and will end Friday 17 March. While betting volumes are expected to increase, the festival will still take place amid growing concerns about affordability.
YouGov, was commissioned by the affiliate Online Betting Guide to conduct a survey of 1,007 UK gamblers between 23 February and 02 March.
The study found that 11% of punters plan to gamble more at Cheltenham than last year. This compares to 10% who stated they planned to gamble less at Cheltenham 2022.
23% of respondents said that they planned to gamble the same amount each year on the event.
A further 6% of respondents said that they didn’t bet on Cheltenham last season but would this year. 50% stated that they wouldn’t place a bet this year and had not placed one last year.
Concerns about affordability
Poppleston Allen, a gambling licensing law firm, stated that punters may face affordability checks when placing bets at Cheltenham this season – and could be refused entry if they don’t provide the required documentation.
Poppleston Allen solicitor Felix Faulkner said, “Since last years major racing events, we’ve noticed a rise of bookmakers undertaking affordability check and asking players to submit documentation such as payslips to prove they can afford gambling.”
“If a gambling establishment asks for financial information from a customer and they are unable to or unwilling to give it, the company has every right to refuse to accept their bet.”
Faulkner emphasizes that this is both an operator licence condition and player protection measure.
Faulkner stated that bookmakers are legally responsible under their operating license conditions for minimizing the chance of customers suffering gambling harm. It is best to refuse a bet if they are concerned that a customer might try to place more than they can afford.
Affordability checks are a presumed component the forthcoming Gambling Act Review whitepaper, a Whitehall document which will outline reforms for gambling in Britain. Particularly the racing industry has been criticized for their effect on punters.
It began a campaign in February to get bettors to write to their local MPs to warn them about the effects of the checks. This campaign is supported by the Betting and Gaming Council.
Faulkner stated that the lack of guidance regarding affordability checks had led the industry to create its own rules, resulting in variations across the board.
“An element uncertainty in the market”
He said that there was an element of uncertainty on the market right now. “But, there are not hard and fast rules about what level is appropriate at the moment that should prompt bookmakers ask their customers to prove that they can afford to gamble.”
Faulkner stated that, although it is not clear if bookmakers will enforce affordability during this year’s event but they must still adhere to the GB Gambling Commission licence conditions.
He said that it remains to be seen how on-course bookmakers interpret the guidance for this year. In practice, it can be difficult to figure out who can afford what when there is a race that starts in a minute and there are 20 people offering money to bet on it. However, operators must adhere to licence conditions and should act responsibly.