The Racing Post editor explains better than
the Gambling Commission how this proposal will pan out:
Nothing to worry about, then. Just a perfectly normal proposal that a non-governmental quango staffed by unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats -- not even civil
servants -- will determine a loss level at which you and I should be subject to checks on our personal finances. Just a demand that in order to continue betting if a couple of £25 each-way punts go awry, we must share payslips and bank statements with
Well! Most punters would tell any betting operator asking for such invasive details of one's financial affairs to go whistle, but imagine for a second that you would subject yourself to such an illiberal and demeaning
process. How would your capacity to bet be assessed? The Gambling Commission's consultation document gives some clues, and its suggestions should horrify punters and anyone who cares about the rights of the individual to manage their own affairs without
overweening state interference.
First, it is essential to note that while proponents of affordability checks would have you believe these can take place seamlessly and without any inconvenience to punters by utilising information
betting operators already hold or can access from credit agencies, the Gambling Commission states this is not the case, noting we would want to be clear that it is still likely that operators will need to collect information directly from customers.
So, let's say you are a daily £10 punter and after a fortnight of middling-to-poor results you hit the prospective £100 threshold for affordability checks. You reluctantly and with grave reservations hand over your most sensitive
financial documents for review. How does the operator decide if you are barred from betting for the rest of the month and subject to punting restrictions for evermore?
According to the Gambling Commission, the most relevant way of
assessing your capacity to bet before beginning to experience harms is through assessing what it calls discretionary income. This is what you have left each month after spending on essentials like taxes, bills, food and housing. Crucially, however, the
commission adds it would not be expected that anyone could spend their entire discretionary income on gambling without experiencing harms.
As such, the Gambling Commission is not just suggesting your financial affairs should be
subject to the sort of scrutiny you might find uncomfortable coming from your spouse, never mind Sky Bet, but that the sum of money you have left after meeting all obligations and purchasing all essentials still cannot be used as you see fit. This is a
naked admission that this is not about affordability, but about prohibitionism and control.