Should New Gambling Affordability Checks be Challenged?

25 March 2024

Over 100,000 people signed an online petition which questioned the government’s policy on affordability checks in order to initiate a parliamentary debate. These checks will soon come into force and they have been implemented in order to limit the amount UK punters can spend when gambling online.

What is an Affordability Check?

An affordability check is where the government legally requires gambling companies to ‘check’ whether players can afford to gamble. The level being proposed varies depending on your age but for over 25 year olds, it amounts to around £1.37 per day and even less for anyone under 25. In fact, due to the negative publicity, the government has rebranded them and now calls them financial risk checks.

Those against the checks are of the opinion that they are extremely intrusive. In order to check whether a potential punter can place a bet or play a casino online, the casino company will ask for bank statements. It is unknown exactly how much a punter needs to have in his/her bank account for them to pass this check, but punters are not comfortable divulging private financial information in order to make a bet online.

In the debate, MPs raised the point that affordability checks ‘run the risk of the government interfering in personal choices’. However, basic principles of freedom and liberty seemed to be anonymous in the debate. Should the government decide how much gamblers can spend?

Independent MP Conor McGinn (who recently resigned from the Labour party) talked about the checks as being ‘bad policy by any objective measure’.

David Davies MP also spoke about standing up for punters who are being treated as some kind of ‘pariah’s on society’.

Writing for Slotshawk in 2024, Jon Bryan is of the opinion that there is currently a huge need for the rights of gamblers to be stood up for. He says that the anti-gambling advocates will ‘always be back for more’ and that no laws or limits will never be enough for them until online gambling is completely banned.

The maximum amount punters can bet on online slot machines was limited last year and even after the announcement was made, there were still many saying how the news laws had not gone far enough.

However, it remains the case that punters’ voices are rarely spoken about in cases such as this.

The Potential Consequences of Tighter Regulations

One other aspect of this whole fiasco which needs to be considered is how the black market will take advantage of UK punters who are restricted from gambling online.

Any punter who loses £125 over 30 days or £500 in a year will have their actions limited – basically meaning they won’t be able to gamble at any UK government regulated gambling website. This looks set to ensure that black market betting activity will grow as punters will opt to play at websites which will not limit their betting activity.

Furthermore, if UK punters are gambling at offshore online betting platforms, then money is both leaving the UK economy and the UK government is also losing out on tax revenue. Gambling companies pay billions of pounds in tax revenue to the government each year and with gambling slowly being outlawed, the tax revenue will certainly shrink.

It is unlikely that new laws will stop gamblers from gambling, they will simply gamble elsewhere.

When Will Affordability Checks Become Law

Initially, it is expected that new affordability checks will come into law by September 2024. Of course, the parliamentary debate may yet cause a delay in proceedings.

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