Racegoers Urged to Sign Affordability Checks Petition at Cheltenham Meeting

  • The Jockey Club’s affordability checks petition already has over 83,000 signatures
  • If the petition reaches 100,000, affordability checks will be considered before Parliament
  • The Jockey Club believe that affordability checks are inappropriate and discriminatory
Horse race at Cheltenham racecourse
Fans attending the horse races at Cheltenham racecourse this weekend will be urged to sign a petition against affordability checks. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Inappropriate and discriminatory

Affordability checks will be on racegoers’ minds during Cheltenham’s three-day November meeting this weekend and they will be encouraged to sign a petition against it.

Created by Jockey Club Chief Executive Nevin Truesdale, the petition already has over 83,000 signatures. Last year, over 30,000 people attended Cheltenham’s November meeting; that same figure is expected this year.

If the petition reaches 100,000 signatures, the issue of affordability checks will be considered for debate in Parliament. According to Jockey Club managing director Ian Renton, the reforms could lead people to place bets through the black market.

affordability checks could place those they seek to protect in harm’s way”

While Renton said they are “supportive of targeted measures which directly address problem gambling,” at the same time, they believe that “affordability checks could place those they seek to protect in harm’s way by pushing them to unregulated black markets.”

The petition states that they want the government to stop the planned introduction of affordability checks for some people who want to place a bet. It adds that assessing whether a person is at risk based on their postcode or job title is inappropriate and discriminatory.

The petition also includes the concern about the negative impact affordability checks could have on Britain’s horseracing finances because of a drop in the number of people placing bets.

Significant financial implications

In September, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) criticized the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) after making claims that the threat of the black market on the industry was “overstated.”

According to the BHA, each time £10m ($12.5m) of British horse racing revenue from gambling goes to the black market, horse racing misses out on £1m ($1.25m) in levy funding and another £1.5m ($2m) in media rights.

The BHA said that far from being overstated, “the Gambling Commission continues to underestimate the threat of the black market” and that it could have “significant financial implications.”

Affordability checks will be conducted on players if their net loss hits £125 ($156) per month or £500 ($622) per year. More detailed affordability checks will take place at loss thresholds of £1,000 ($1,245) within 24 hours or £2,000 ($2,490) within a 90-day period. These amounts will be cut in half for those under age 25.

While speaking in front of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee (DCMS), Andrew Rhodes, Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission, said that the size of the UK black market was “very small, but estimates do vary.”

Sports minister Stuart Andrew told the select committee that affordability checks wouldn’t cause any financial harm to the horseracing betting industry. However, the BHA remain concerned because of the “unique relationship between British racing and betting,” and if affordability checks are put into place they need to be as seamless as possible.

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