Neil Channing: “I don’t see how accessibility controls can stop problem gambling” | Horse racing news

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Neil Channing had his say on the gambling review

By Scott Burton

One of Britain’s most recognizable professional bettors has said he doesn’t believe betting operators should act as ‘moral arbiters’ when it comes to deciding how much any given individual should be allowed to bet.

Neil Channing fears that a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to reform betting and gaming legislation has been derailed by an obsession with problem gambling, a problem he does not expect to effectively address by the proposed introduction of affordability controls and deposit limits as part of the gambling review.

Channing says his business has already been slightly affected by operators setting up their own cheques, a move which was highlighted by the case of a man with £300,000 in savings and an annual pension income of £70 £000, who was told he would be limited to depositing £300 a month by a company.

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But his main concern is how regular customers will react when asked to provide detailed financial proof of their income and means before companies then decide on appropriate levels above which they should not bet.

Channing said: “Taking the story reported in the Racing Post, do we have to look at how much this guy is spending on food each month? Does he live in an expensive area like London or in the rural north? How many children has does he?

“Why are bookmakers being asked to make moral judgments about what is a reasonable amount to spend on gambling?”

“The only good thing we could get out of this would be for the Gambling Commission to establish a standard set of strict procedures that everyone follows.”

Dan Mullan (Getty Images)

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Mandatory accessibility checks could drive recreational bettors and problem gamblers away from the internet to other avenues such as lane betting, casinos or the black market

Mandatory accessibility checks could drive recreational bettors and problem gamblers away from the internet to other avenues such as lane betting, casinos or the black market

Dan Mullan (Getty Images)

Campaigners have lobbied the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to include limits as low as £100, after which a customer would be required to submit proof of income, a prospect that could see many recreational bettors decide, in Channing’s words, “it’s not worth bothering.”

“This is meant to be a unique insight into the gaming industry and what could be better about it,” Channing said. “And we spend all our time talking about 0.2% of the population.

“In terms of problem gambling, I’m not sure it would work. If companies tell someone they think they have a problem and that person disagrees, either there’s been a misunderstanding on the behavior of this person, or they have a problem, but they are not ready to accept it.

“They won’t go to their GP anyway, and they’ll find another way to gamble, in casinos, bookies or on the track, and they’ll make their money there.

“Given the amount of information operators already have about their customers – they know how to market their products to them and how to cross-promote them, how to restrict them if they are winners or too price-sensitive – I don’t see how they don’t already have enough information to identify problem players.”

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FIRST POSTED AT 11:24 AM, MAY 13, 2022

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