Friday 10 November
Yorkshire Residents Urged To Sign Petition
NOTE: the petition can be found at petition.parliament.uk/petitions/649894
Yorkshire residents have been urged to sign a petition against Government proposals which could put thousands of jobs in the area at risk.
Britain’s horseracing industry launched the petition calling on the UK Government to halt plans to subject bettors who lose as little as £1.37 a day to “intrusive” affordability checks.
Proposals for two tiers of checks were set out in April of this year when the Government’s Gambling White Paper was published. The first tier would be for those who lose as little as £125 in 30 days or £500 in a year to be subject to “frictionless” background checks using “publicly available data”. The second would result in more detailed scrutiny for bettors with net losses of £1,000 within 24 hours or £2,000 in 90 days. These checks would involve credit reference agencies in the first instance, with bookmakers also required to ask customers for personal documentation such as bank statements and proof of earnings.
Although the proposals have not yet been formally introduced, more than one in four bettors say they have already been subjected to affordability checks by bookmakers in anticipation of them being implemented, with some operators requesting financial documentation, including payslips and P60 forms.
Racing industry experts warn that enforcing the strict measures in the blanket way they are currently proposed would have a “catastrophic” impact on the industry, with more than half of the 14,000 racing bettors who completed a ‘Right to Bet’ survey saying they would be prepared to walk away from the sport completely or reduce their involvement rather than provide personal financial information.
Independent estimates value the potential lost revenue to the industry at around £250 million over the next five years and substantial online betting revenue has already been lost since the checks were first introduced.
That has sparked fears that thousands of livelihoods could be put at risk in Yorkshire alone, with around 3,600 full time equivalent jobs directly or indirectly dependent on horseracing in the Yorkshire area.
Ben Warn, Chairman of Go Racing In Yorkshire, explained: “This is a really important issue for anyone whose job relies upon horseracing and in a county like Yorkshire, with major training establishments in Malton, Middleham and Sutton Bank, that’s a significant percentage of the community.
“Whether you’re a breeder, trainer, farrier, vet, jockey, or you work in a racing yard, at a racecourse or in one of the countless other roles which help this sport contribute £3.2 million to the Yorkshire economy each year, these Government proposals have the potential to threaten your livelihood.
“Our industry plays a crucial role in the rural community and it is no exaggeration to draw the conclusion that any local business which is thriving as a result of Yorkshire being recognised as the ‘Home of the Thoroughbred’ will be put at significant risk. That’s why we’re encouraging as many people as possible to sign the petition.”
Launched on behalf of the entire racing industry the petition is registered in the name of Nevin Truesdale, Chief Executive of The Jockey Club, which is the largest organisation and employer in British racing, owner and operator of 15 racecourses, The National Stud and Jockey Club Estates.
He said: “These proposed and ongoing affordability checks are a significant infringement on personal freedom and have the potential to impact unfairly on two groups of people – the millions who gamble responsibly every year and the tens of thousands whose livelihoods depend directly and indirectly on horseracing, including a significant number of people in Yorkshire.
“Nowhere else in society do we see this level of intrusiveness from the Government when it comes to people’s legitimate hobbies and we know that the likely result will either be people leaving the sport, or much worse, switching to the unregulated black market.
“Both of these outcomes will have catastrophic consequences, not only for racing’s financial ecosystem but for local communities and those whose jobs depend upon the sport.”
Truesdale added that the racing industry remains keen to assist the Government in finding appropriate measures to help those who need support.
He explained: “The horseracing industry is hugely supportive of changes which directly address problem gambling, especially in the digital age we are in and we welcome the reform of the gambling laws which will result from the White Paper, once it passes through the Parliamentary legislative process.
“However, one of our greatest concerns is that the checks themselves will not actually succeed in addressing the biggest issue they have been designed to tackle. If you introduce these blanket checks as they have been proposed, all it will do is create issues and friction for people, most of whom bet perfectly responsibly.
“It won’t actually address the challenges faced by problem gamblers, given that it is a habit-forming activity. Those betting safely will give up or turn to the black market, creating further problems in an unregulated environment, while those who don’t have the means to fund their gambling will simply find another way to bet.
“We would like to see a much more targeted system of checks, which specifically respond to other markers of harm rather than just a blanket affordability check that will do nothing to address the underlying issue.”
In order to secure a response from the Government the petition must receive 10,000 signatures and if 100,000 people sign then it will be considered for debate in Parliament.
To sign the petition visit petition.parliament.uk/petitions/649894