NEW restrictions on betting could spark chaos and drive punters to unsafe, unregulated black market gambling sites.
That’s according to a new survey conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Betting and Gaming Council, which revealed that 79 per cent of bettors thought increased restrictions would result in people moving to unregulated websites where no player protection or limits exist.
Meanwhile 70 per cent of Brits said they would consider a different bookmaker if they were asked to provide “private financial documents” in order to place a bet.
The study comes as punters gear up for Cheltenham Festival, the biggest week in horse racing.
Around 274,000 will attend Cheltenham, generating an estimated £100m for the local economy, while approximately £1bn will be staked across the four-day event.
The survey results come as Government nears publication of a Gambling White Paper setting out new reforms to betting and gaming.
But punters and racing leaders have expressed concern that ‘affordability’ checks which require punters to prove they have the means to bet, could drive people away from licenced bookmakers and into the arms of the gambling black market.
BGC CEO Michael Dugher, said: “This research is the latest in a series outlining the genuine concerns of millions of ordinary punters who feel that the people making decisions about the future of betting are out of touch and have never had a bet in their lives.
“We want to see genuinely non-intrusive checks, which use technology to carefully target and protect the tiny minority of vulnerable punters, but intrusive, blanket, low level so-called ‘affordability’ checks will be universally rejected by punters.
“Any intrusive and blanket approach risks having the opposite effect by pushing them into the unsafe, unregulated black market which offers no safer gambling tools like time outs and deposit limits, doesn’t support the economy or sport and doesn’t pay a penny in tax.”
Betting is a hugely popular British hobby.
Around 22.5 million adults in the UK have a bet each month – whether it’s buying a lottery ticket, having a game of bingo, visiting a casino, playing online or having a wager on football, horse racing and other sports.
Meanwhile problem gambling rates in the UK are low by international standards, according to the independent regulator.
The latest figures from the Gambling Commission show 0.2 per cent of the adult population are problem gamblers, down from 0.3 per cent the previous year.
Unlike the black market, regulated betting and gaming supports around 110,000 jobs in the UK, generates £7.1bn for the economy and contributes £4.2bn in tax for vital frontline services.
However, one recent study found the numbers using black market sites have doubled in recent years from 210,000 to 460,000, and the money staked is in the billions.
RacingTV has now launched a letter writing campaign allowing punters to contact their MPs, to outline concerns about potential changes to betting regulation.
You can email your MP by clicking on this link, entering your postcode to find your MP, and putting your name to the letter – a process which is straightforward and will take less than a minute to complete.
Remember to gamble responsibly
A responsible gambler is someone who:
- Establishes time and monetary limits before playing
- Only gambles with money they can afford to lose
- Never chase their losses
- Doesn’t gamble if they’re upset, angry or depressed
- Gamcare – www.gamcare.org.uk
- Gamble Aware – www.begambleaware.org
For help with a gambling problem, call the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133 or go to www.gamstop.co.uk to be excluded from all UK-regulated gambling websites.