By John Gosden
The Gambling Act of 2005 was obviously unable to foresee the ubiquitous arrival of the iPhone. It is this that has placed a casino in everyone’s pocket and it is this that has changed the face of betting.
Online gaming casinos are merely instantly accessible FOBTs. They require no more than an addictive personality for a person to be drawn in and seduced by the bright colours and offers.
Start playing repetitively and the algorithms will hook you, whereas gambling on horseracing requires deep research, a high degree of knowledge and understanding of a host of factors, including form, going, draw, distance, pedigrees, jockey and trainer. It is not a casual ‘shoot from the hip’ bet. It is not the same as putting it all on black or red.
Online casino gaming is where the Gambling Commission should be targeting its focus. However, the interim affordability checks do not differentiate it from racing and are absolutely not frictionless. They are having the unintended consequence of pushing people to the unregulated black market, where they will have no protection.
Prohibition did not stop people drinking but instead created speakeasies, bootlegging and crime. If someone wants to drink or bet, they will find a way.
It is increasingly clear that the present affordability checks are not fit for purpose. Any subsequent legislation that is blunt and ill-defined will damage the racing industry, whose relationship with betting is historical, sophisticated and symbiotic.
As Martin Cruddace’s letter points out, there are many better avenues to achieving many of the regulator’s aims without resorting to a sledgehammer to break the nut. It also still remains a mystery as to why the Gambling Commission has not yet published its findings of the original consultation on affordability checks from two and a half years ago.
The horseracing and breeding industry in this country is the most respected internationally for its quality and standing. It is also a huge asset to UK plc. The Gambling Commission and government need to begin to understand this fact before another great British industry is destroyed.
Please, therefore, join me in signing British racing’s petition that calls on the government to think again.
Sign the petition now. It takes less than two minutes