Research from GambleAware suggests that affordability checks are supported

New research from GambleAware suggests that more than half of UK adults support the introduction of affordability and financial risk checks when gambling.

Ipsos, in collaboration with GambleAware, surveyed 4,170 people aged 18 and 75 to gauge public opinion on affordability checks. These controls are one of several proposals made in the government’s white paper, published in April last year.

It is proposed that players who lose £1,000 in 24 hours or £2,000 in 90 days will be subject to checks. Operators would also carry out “passive” checks on players whose net loss is more than £125 a month or £500 a year.

The proposals have sparked much debate within the industry, with arguments for and against such controls. GambleAware has declared its support for such controls and has now published research suggesting that the public also supports the proposal.

Of those surveyed, 61% would support “lightweight” financial vulnerability checks to identify customers who may be particularly vulnerable. Some 57% also supported the implementation of “enhanced” controls in cases of unusually high levels of damage and major risks.

Those who suffer from gambling problems react more strongly to the checks. About 58% of this group support advanced controls and 54% support light touch controls. Additionally, most adults expect operators to take action or contact if a consumer fails these checks.

GambleAware CEO: Proactive measures needed

“As we continue to see a steady increase in demand for support and treatment services, we urge the Government to ensure that no opportunities are missed when it comes to directing robust preventive measures to address this rapidly growing public health problem,” GambleAware CEO Zoë Osmond said.

“It is imperative that proactive measures are taken to address the root causes of gambling harm. These include comprehensive education programs and awareness campaigns, stricter regulations to protect vulnerable populations, and sufficient funding for treatment and support services.

“By prioritizing preventive measures and ensuring the industry takes some responsibility for protecting individuals from prohibitive losses, we can mitigate the harmful effects of problem gambling on individuals and society as a whole.”

There remains uncertainty about the apparent support of checks

However, the study also indicated a degree of uncertainty regarding the proposed controls. There are concerns and skepticism about the privacy and effectiveness of controls, with some saying they could be seen as an invasion of privacy. Others expressed concern that people might find a way to get around these controls.

There is also uncertainty regarding the appropriate loss threshold for the checks. About two in five adults were unsure what the threshold should be to trigger the checks, regardless of the time frame within which the financial checks are made

In this context, only a small number of adults say they would be affected by controls because of their gambling in the last 12 months. Only 10% said they would be subject to light touch controls, while this proportion dropped to 5% for enhanced controls.

Additionally, around a third of those who gambled in the last 12 months said they did not gamble online. This means their gambling will not be caught by the new internet-focused controls.

Bigger concerns

These concerns echo some of those raised in an iGB feature article last month.

Opponents of the plans raised, among other things, the question that the proposed loss limits were not realistic. Some have pointed out that current loss amounts are minimal for many players and it would not be fair to subject them to scrutiny.

There are also concerns about implementing crowd controls around major sporting events. Some say it is unrealistic to expect operators to carry out thorough checks with so many active bettors.

Additionally, some parties have expressed concerns that these controls could push players to unlicensed sites. Since these websites are unregulated, they are not subject to any controls, so players can continue to play without having to undergo any controls. However, these websites do not offer the same protection as licensed operators.

Discussions about the proposed affordability tests are ongoing.

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