‘It could kill the race in stone’ – dire warnings of £100m hit to sport | Horse racing news


Edward Whitaker

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Racing could be “stone dead” if worst-case scenarios come true from gambling review

Edward Whitaker

By Bill Barber, Industry Editor

Financial modeling has estimated that tough action around accessibility controls, advertising and sponsorship following the government’s review of the game could cost the UK racing industry over £100m sterling per year, killing her “dead stone” in the words of one high-profile personality.

The possibility of intrusive accessibility checks that ask customers for personal financial information such as bank statements and payslips continues to worry UK racing management, with the subject being discussed again in Westminster this week ahead of the publication of the government white paper in May.

One MP said such checks should be introduced for losses as low as £100 a month. There are fears that if this were introduced it would cause people to reduce or stop betting on races altogether or be driven into the black market.

Previous estimates put the cost of the strictest controls at over £60m a year, but Arena Racing Company chief executive Martin Cruddace said the figure could be as high as £100m on the based on a projection that between 60 and 70 percent of bettors would refuse to have to prove they could afford gambling losses. A survey commissioned by the Betting and Gaming Council claimed that less than one in five bettors would be willing to let betting companies access their bank accounts or payslips in order to bet.

Charlie Parker, chairman of the Horsemen’s Group and chairman of the Racehorse Owners Association, a member of UK racing’s Gambling Strategy Group, which has dealt with the gambling review issue, said on Tuesday: “Industry estimates are that the total impact could be over £100m if certain scenarios around sponsorship advertising, affordability checks etc. are introduced. That’s it – levy, media rights and sponsorship – and that would obviously kill the thing in stone.

Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)

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Charlie Parker: renewed calls for racing industry to continue lobbying ahead of gambling review

Charlie Parker: renewed calls for racing industry to continue lobbying ahead of gambling review

Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)

“I’m sure they don’t want that to happen, so we have to navigate the weeks and months ahead to make sure that’s not the case.”

UK racing leaders have lobbied MPs and ministers to point out the possible unintended consequences of much tougher regulations.

Parker added: “I think we’ve been pretty successful in persuading them to see the reality of the situation, but what happens next once the white paper is out is really important – another round of lobbying and another round of evidence and all that is necessary.”

However, Parker went to great lengths to make it clear that the race was looking at its own role in making the game safer and reducing the potential for harm, saying“Obviously problem gambling is a problem and while we are on par with the Problem Gambling Lottery, a lot of people are betting on the races.

“Work has been done on this within the cross-industry group – what racetracks can do in betting rings, for example with underage gambling, what media rights companies can do and what bookmakers can do.

“There’s some pretty smart stuff there and they can tell if someone is acting abnormally. There’s a technological angle to it rather than a blunt instrument. Either way, it goes against the civil liberties, telling people what they can and can’t spend their money on. There are ways to do that that I think would be better than just wiping out the sport.”

Gambling Minister Chris Philip reiterated his view that affordability controls should be ‘proportionate’ when taking part in a debate in the House of Commons on Monday night on the review of gambling .

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield told the Commons accessibility checks for those who lose more than £100 a month gambling would “make a profound difference”.

He added: “Some have questioned whether £100 a month is proportionate, but research by the Social Market Foundation found that any affordability check above that level would continue to allow high losses.”

Philp said the government ‘didn’t want to stop people who want to gamble recreationally from doing so or put unreasonable obstacles in their way’ but added: ‘We need to act’.

On affordability checks, he said they needed to be ‘proportionate and presented at the right level’, adding: ‘Data is available if operators use it correctly and if the Gambling Commission has proper access to it for deliver this result. This should be a very important area of ​​attention in the review of the Gambling Act which is coming very soon.”

Philp’s colleague Rishi Sunak was among those who expressed concern over the races, in a letter to Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries.

The Chancellor, whose Richmond constituency includes Catterick Racecourse and Middleham Training Centre, wrote recently on behalf of his local industry about concerns over affordability checks, the second time he has raised the question after writing to Dorries’ predecessor Oliver Dowden last year.

Read more:

Chancellor Rishi Sunak raises racing industry concerns over gambling review

“Change is needed and change is coming” – gambling minister at a rally for reform

Race has warned that the gambling review poses a ‘clear and present danger’ to the sport’s future

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