Are affordability checks just “prohibition by another name”?

  • Updated
  • By Hannah Timoney
GBG criticises affordability checks
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Gambling Business Group (GBG), a British cross-sector organisation warns that the affordability checks proposed by the Gambling Commission could have the opposite effect and lead to an increase in problem gambling and unlicensed casinos. 

Back in November new legislation was proposed by the Social Market Foundation (SMF) of a ‘soft cap’ of £100 per month on net deposits at an online casino. If an individual exceeds this value, the SMF says they should be investigated by an independent gambling advocate to ensure that they can afford the losses and are not in danger of problem gambling. 

According to a letter circulating in the horse-racing sphere, affordability checks could result in direct losses of more than £60m. While the author stipulates that reform is necessary, they suggest that affordability checks will do more harm to the industry than good. A sentiment that is shared by the GBG.

The GBG has criticised the proposal, saying there are unintended consequences that have to be taken into account. They suggest the proposal would risk the currently low level of problem gambling, as well as be at risk of undoing the hard work of the Commission, operators, safer gambling agencies, and charities. 

GBG chief executive Peter Hannibal was quoted as saying “I would like to stress from the outset that although the Gambling Commission’s affordability proposal has been framed in relation to online players, it would be naïve in the extreme to assume that the principles and philosophy will not be extended to all gambling entertainment activities.”

He states that the ‘main reason for concern’ is that, in his opinion, affordability checks may drive players away from regulated sites towards unregulated and unlicensed providers, which could in turn lead to a rise in problem gambling.

Hannibal goes on to say that “currently the demand to play on unregulated sites is limited but the unintended and I assume unforeseen consequences of affordability checks will be to create such a market and then to sustain it.”

“Make no mistake, this is prohibition by another name and wherever you look in the world prohibition has never worked and will never work, more than often creating exactly the set of problems that it sets out to address.”

While any new measure implemented should be carefully considered, and all potential consequences taken into consideration, affordability checks serve to protect players and their funds. 

If you are thinking about playing at an unlicensed casino, read our Guide to Unlicensed Casinos first, to make sure you have all the facts and are in the best position to make a decision.