The majority (84.7%) of regular bettors in the UK are spending less than £100 per month, but despite their moderate spending, many could be hit by the government’s proposals to introduce mandatory affordability checks, results of a survey by sports betting community OLBG show
In the long-awaited white paper on gambling reform released today, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Lucy Frazer said that “people should be free to spend their money as they choose”, but added that the Gambling Commission would now consult on two forms of ‘financial risk check’.
The first, described as being aimed at ‘moderate levels of spend’ is proposed to be brought in for net losses of £125 per month, or £500 per year.
The second, aimed at higher and potentially riskier ‘binge’ levels of spending, is proposed for losses of £1,000 in 24 hours or £2,000 within 90 days.
“The government estimates that about 20% of players will be impacted by the lower level checks and this broadly tallies with the survey of 1,007 bettors conducted for OLBG recently by YouGov. This revealed that only 15.3% of players were spending in excess of £100 per month on gambling,” said Richard Moffat, CEO at OLBG.
“However, our survey also revealed that 9.2% were spending £51-£100 per month and 15.3% were spending £26-50 per month. Assuming the former are spending consistently every month and the latter are close to the top of the range and spending around the same each month, these players could also breach the £500 annual limit and have to undergo affordability checks.
“If, as has been proposed today, these prove frictionless and largely occur without the customer noticing, they should not pose too much of a deterrent to players.
“On the other hand, if they prove more onerous, perhaps because unintrusive checks can’t be carried out on a particular customer or if checks for the higher level spending turn out to require more input from players, our survey results suggest players will not be happy.”
OLBG’s survey also asked players about their willingness to comply with affordability checks, as many gambling operators have already started asking gamblers to provide documents such as payslips and bank statements to prove they can afford their gambling.
Overall, 65% of bettors said they were not willing to take part in such checks, with even those spending at higher levels reluctant. Less than half of those players betting £100 per month or more were willing to do so.
“Many players reported that when asked to submit to affordability checks they had refused and either switched operator or stopped betting. So there is now a big question mark over what will happen if all licensed operators have to carry them out,” said Moffat.
Other findings of the UK Gambling Habits Survey were that 23.4% of bettors spent less than £5 per month, 22.2% of bettors £6-15 spent per month and 14.7% £16-25.
About three in 10 (30.9%) bettors reported having a wager once a week, a figure that tallies with the most recent Gambling Participation Statistics, released by the Gambling Commission in February. Its research found that 31.1% of bettors gambled once a week in the year ending December 2022.
The OLBG/YouGov survey also found that 9% of gamblers bet daily, while 17.5% bet once a month.