Watch and read what professional gambler Neil Channing said on Luck On Sunday about the potential consequences of the results of a horse racing gambling review.
Professional gambler Neil Channing has described the upcoming outcome of a gambling review as an “existential threat” to horse racing if rigorous affordability checks are implemented.
Speaking on Luck on Sunday, Channing raised his concerns about the potential threat the outcome could pose to the sport’s financial health, and what impact it will have in the near and long-term future.
Over the next few weeks, the outcome of the important gambling review, which has been under discussion for more than 12 months, is due to be announced.
Although it is not yet known what might emerge from the review, affordability checks are expected to be among the proposals announced in the government’s white paper outlining their proposals for future legislation to address problem gambling.
If so, then horse racing will almost certainly suffer financial implications.
Channing has been vocal about his concerns over the past few months, and says he hasn’t exaggerated describing the potential prospects for the review as an “existential threat” given the extent of the legislation under consideration.
Watch: Neil Channing discusses the potential impact a gambling review can have on the horse racing industry
“It’s an existential threat to the sport,” Channing repeated to Nick Lack on the popular Weekly Breakfast Show on Racing TV.
“It wasn’t an absolute formula, and it wasn’t excessive. I really believe it. I think we might have fought the £100 cap you could gamble for without having to send a lot of information to the bookmakers. However, if it did, We would be talking about a decrease of over 50% in the amount of people gambling, which means no more horse racing.
“In 2005 the Blair government created the Gambling Act 2005 which was passed in 2007. The internet was in its infancy at this point and there is still talk of the need for a new gambling law as we move from an analog age, to a digital age.
“What this act of gambling has done is somewhat liberalized the betting industry. Some people might say it has also caused an explosion in problem gambling with things like the arrival of FOBTs, but some people will criticize that.”
Channing explained the government process in reporting and announcing the results of a gambling review, and the stage it is now in before the outcome. However, although the outcome is looming, the announced proposals may not become legislation for two years.
“The government, at the moment, has looked at the need for new legislation and they have asked the Gambling Commission — the quango organization — to take input from anyone who wants to send things in and talk about what might need to happen at work,” Channing explained.
“The way you get into the business of Parliament is there is a green paper, which is basically a process of debate/consultation, and the white paper outlines exactly what will be in the bill, so people can then say ‘you can’t put that in because of this and this’.
“Then it turns into a form and then goes through Parliament. We are now at the point where the White Paper is being drawn up, so we are close to something happening. It may not become legislation for two years.”
Last year a Gambling Commission advisory raised the possibility of capping the total monthly losses of online gambling at £100, unless a customer can demonstrate they can afford to lose more.
According to the results of a Racing TV survey, in which nearly 2,000 Racing TV members participated, 93% of respondents said they “should be responsible for setting the limits of their bets or betting spend.”
Another Racing TV poll later this year revealed that more than 86% of respondents believed that enhanced affordability tests could lead to underground betting, and the government received a lot of hype after announcing the potential 100-pound cap. sterling.
“When I said this was an existential threat to racing, it was because bringing in affordability checks where you had to show documentation to your bookmaker to allow you to deposit whatever you wanted to deposit could have come out of law,” Channing said. .
“He could have come as of January 2021, because he felt the gambling commission had the ability to do that. However, given the sheer number of people who responded to the conversation, the gambling commission decided ‘Oh, cool.’” We thought we’d get 300 responses and we’d get 13,000 responses, so we’re going to kick this in the tall grass and then the politicians can tie it to their action.
“It was a win for the horse racing industry to make that happen. We are now struggling not to get it included in the new gambling law.
“You might say I don’t want to see a problem with gambling, but the whole problem is how big the threshold should be for you to get a bet versus sending a lot of info. Bookmakers have argued that people would stop betting on horse racing if they had to send 12 months of payouts. Bank accounts and P45s/P60s and that kind of thing. People who push for reform will say there’s no real evidence for it, and a lack of information. However, anecdotally, when you talk to people, say, say Entain, it’s They asked all of their VIPs to send this information and 95% just left and said “No, I won’t do that”.
Bruce Millington of The Racing Post raises concerns about affordability checks from bookmakers in a recent edition of Luck On Sunday
Channing also explained how bettors could look to place their bets elsewhere, in the event of strict affordability measures being taken, with gamblers likely not wanting to hand over their financial details to the bookmakers. The measures could also encourage gamblers to instead bet on the black market.
“The black market is interesting,” Channing said. “The Gambling Commission has a few hundred staff, but it is very small. Gambling in the Treasury is a £4 billion industry and the commission takes care of about £25 million. It is in their best interest to tell the UK government that we are doing a really good job and there is not much Black market gambling They’ve been campaigning to stop pub gambling, for example, for the past five years, but that’s not happening anymore, really.
“What is happening now, in the modern age, bookmakers on WhatsApp which is a huge thing. I am sure the Gambling Commission does not want to admit it. Some of these will be licensed operators saying ‘come and bet with me, do it through WhatsApp and screenshot something’ And that you fancy £100 on it, and you can have it.”
That’s fine. These companies are licensed, and they pay a lot more tax than the biggest operators. However, then you get a gray area where there are some people who are off-the-book customers who send me private messages and I don’t do things about being able to bear the costs with them.
“Other operators work abroad and transfer VIPs to foreign territories, and then there is direct illegal gambling. I have been contacted by a lot of people who said they can help me. “We will pay you in the parking lot or via Bitcoin, it’s not that hard.” You don’t have to Being a mega gambler, just a £100 gambler, really.
“The point is that the bookmakers themselves are going to talk about that, if we introduce affordability checks, it will drive people into the black markets. However, they are not talking about restricting people who want to bet £100 at 10am on the race. The big one of the day and they can get you just £8.43.
They never talked about how this could drive people to the black market. A lot of the people I’ve spoken to have been pushed into the black market because they can’t keep up, so the betting industry can’t do it both ways. You can’t say affordability drives people to the black market, but strict restrictions don’t because both are.
Stricter gambling measures have been implemented by bookmakers in recent years, as companies have tried to raise awareness of problem gambling and get the message out that there is help for people with problem gambling there.
Begambleaware.org also offers free, confidential help and support for anyone who is concerned about their or someone else’s gambling problems.
“I think betting companies have done a good job of trying to avoid this (problem gambling) in the past few years,” Channing said.
“There are still some gambling issues, but not many. The companies have introduced some policies to try to stop this. The betting companies are no longer feeding on customers and drinking, and they can’t take people to races and discuss their customers. This idea that they are letting people into some kind of relationship Where they bleed from someone it doesn’t happen anymore.These companies want to be whiter than white and they are worried about getting their licenses in the US, so the UK market is not important to most of these really big multinationals.
“Companies have done a good job of identifying the potential winner and who they want to constrain thus. If they are good at doing that, they should be good at identifying who the problem gambler is.
99 % are only those who want to get a penalty, and no one speaks for them.
“Racing TV members who filled out the survey say they are interested in gambling on horse races and not in slots. They see it as a hobby, a brain activity, and they see it as a puzzle. It is much more difficult to become addicted to something with three or four bets a day, compared to spinning a roulette wheel Every 30 seconds So, if there is data showing that betting on horse racing is less addictive than, say, blackjack, this may be information that bookmakers take into account before they decide how much to gamble.
‘It’s kind of an invasion of privacy in my eyes’ – Frankie Foster bumped into a stalker at a racetrack in Cheltenham last year to discuss affordability checks
What can be done to try to influence decisions made in a gambling review? Channing explained how, if you want to say or do something to get your opinions on the gambling review and its impact on the horse racing industry, it’s best to lobby your MP. He said:
“Horse racing is based on betting. Companies sponsor a large number of races that, within the betting industry, they know people will not care. These companies are looking to catch shoals of new customers and get them to bet on more profitable products.
“We have a government with a large majority and there is no desire to oppose, say, to argue against the affordability check, so the only thing you can do is put pressure on your MP.
“It does not matter which party your MP belongs to because this is a common cause of the parties. The people in the group who are concerned with problem gambling – I must stress that we are all against problem gambling – but the Parliamentary group made up of a Parliamentary group includes MPs from different parties.
“You could argue your MP that this is a violation of your civil liberties. There are often comparisons between smoking or drinking where people say these are sinful things and should be dealt with in this way. However, if I smoke a cigarette, every time I do it is bad for my health If I drink alcohol, in moderation, it is not excessive, but to a large degree, it is bad for my health.
“People are generally healthier if you don’t smoke or drink. You can gamble every day of your life and have absolutely no problem with your lifestyle and it’s a fun activity. If I want to go online and buy a lot of things on Ebay, or have any Kind of like playing golf and spending a fortune on equipment, I can easily do it at a cost to my family, given the amount of time I have to spend on it, and also at a financial cost, given the amount of money I spend on it, and yet the government will not interfere.
“Why would they engage in gambling – it’s just as entertaining an endeavor as anyone else!”