Continued concerns about the future of affordability regulations in the UK gambling sector

By Chika Anene
Published October 11, 2021

Following the resignation of the MP in charge of the Gambling Act 2005 as a result of Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle, one of the major issues at the forefront of the gambling sector is the uncertainty surrounding affordability.

The government reshuffle that forced John Wittingdale to step down has reinforced the fears about stricter rules and damaging spending limits being implemented in the UK’s gambling sector expressed earlier this year.

Behaviour of the UKGC called into question 

Steve Donoghue, secretariat for All-Party Betting and Gaming Group (APBGG) has communicated his sadness about the departure of the former MP, but stated that the greater concern lies in the recent behaviour of the UK Gambling Commission. 

He further went on to state the following, “We think that the Gambling Commission still has much to answer for and that it’s repeated claims of being world class would appear to fall rather short when considering the evidence we’ve received from operators at the coalface.”

Donoghue remains firm about the fact that the decisions regarding affordability in the UK gambling sector should not be made by an “unelected regulator”, and that these decisions should instead be left in the hands of the Parliament.

Affordability check to protect both players and operators

Ex-founder of Probability has suggested using Open Bank as a way for operators to gain foresight about whether the UK players that visit their online casinos are able to afford their level of online casino gambling. 

Cohen explains that the approach that the industry should embrace is the “smoke detector approach” rather than the “fire extinguisher approach” which is currently being used. In other words, to act before a problem takes shape rather than doing damage control after the fact. 

“It needs to be normal for people to agree to affordability checking in the same way they do about giving away other key details – bank account, passport, driving licence – when they register,” Cohen said.

According to Probability’s ex-founder, normalising affordability will likely put an end to conversations about loss limits, as he claims setting limits doesn’t solve the problem of gambling but forces certain patterns of behaviour.