The UK Gambling Commission yesterday penned an open letter to Racing Post readers, signed Andrew Rhodes, CEO. The Commission felt compelled to do so amid what it claims to be blatant publication of “imbalanced stories” by the digital newspaper on a daily basis. The letter was initially intended for the Racing Post readers page, to allow the Commission to clarify their position on the ongoing consultation and clear up any misunderstandings. The newspaper refused to publish the letter.
The letter, addressed to Racing Post readers, acknowledges that readers may have concerns about potential privacy issues regarding the Government and the Gambling Commission proposals in the ongoing consultation about proposed financial risk checks.
99.7% of customers not affected
The first misconception the letter clarifies is the assumption, fuelled by “the volume and nature of the coverage” by the racing post, that under the current proposals a good proportion of gambling consumers would have to be handing over payslips or bank statements when they want to place a bet. The reality is, continues the letter, the estimation is that just 3 percent of accounts would undergo financial risk assessments. Additionally, the Commission estimates that at most just 0.3 percent of account holders would ever be asked to directly provide the additional financial information that operators are already requiring of some customers. “This means 99.7 percent of customers would not be asked to directly provide any information.”
The letter continues with an invitation to the readers to have a say in the process. The financial risk checks consultation offers Racing Post readers the opportunity to engage in policy development, and the Commission invites the readers to submit their views on how the 0.3 percent of account holders could have their financial risk assessed without being asked for additional information.
Under the proposed changes, approximately 90 percent of financial risk assessments would be conducted through credit reference agencies and open-source banking via a regulated third-party provider. The Commission stressed that the checks would not grant gambling companies access to customers’ complete bank account data. Any information received by operators can only be used for evaluating risks of harm, not for identifying or restricting winners.
Proposals exclusive to online gambling
The letter’s second clarification is that these proposals pertain exclusively to online gambling. They would not apply to betting in brick-and-mortar bookmakers or at the racetrack. While high street bookmakers may decide to conduct checks based on social responsibility or anti-money laundering concerns, the changes under consultation apply solely to online gambling.
Lastly, the letter specifies the common misconception that credit checks impact credit ratings and could harm credit scores. However, the open letter stressed that these soft credit checks will not affect credit scores, and data on a customer’s gambling behaviour will not be shared with the financial sector under these proposals.
The letter concludes with a reminder that with only four weeks remaining in the consultation, the Commission welcomes all responses to ensure a balanced approach between safeguarding individual gambling freedom and protecting the most vulnerable from gambling-related harm.
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