As the release of the long-awaited white paper on UK gambling reform nears, Racecourse Media Group (RMG) CEO Martin Stevenson has some thoughts on the subject he’d like to share with Secretary of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Paul Scully. Not surprisingly, Stevenson thinks that operators are over-regulated and that mandatory affordability checks are sending otherwise honest players into the arms of the black market. But Stevenson isn’t just sharing an opinion, he’s got the numbers to back his claims.
Stevenson cited a recent survey conducted by RMG subsidiary, Racing TV that queried 3,500 active players on their views on gambling reform. About 15 percent of respondents played at, or knew someone who played at, black market sites. A full 80 percent of respondents were opposed to affordability checks.
In recent comments, Stevenson connected the use of black market sports betting sites with frustration over affordability checks saying, “This survey is clear evidence that shows that the black market is real and substantial and suggests that affordability checks are having the effect of moving a significant number of affected punters out of the UK-regulated environment and so exposing them to potential harm.
“This must be a pyrrhic victory and the opposite to what affordability checks set out to achieve. We have shared this information with the Gambling Commission and hope that they can take account of this in their assessment of the black market. The evidence suggests it exists and is only building.”
Whether Minister Scully will be moved by Stevenson’s comments is another question entirely, but the CEO does point out the central problem for gambling regulators across the globe. Their efforts to protect problem gamblers must strike a balance that keeps players in the regulated loop, while not creating a system that’s so cumbersome that it drives the black market.