Horse Racing
Stuart Andrew, Minister for Gambling: affordability debate at Westminster ‘an important opportunity’

Stuart Andrew, Minister for Gambling: affordability debate at Westminster ‘an important opportunity’

The proposals for affordability checks made in the government’s gambling white paper in April could cost the sport £50 million a year. Andrew was speaking at a reception in parliament on Monday evening sponsored by his fellow Conservative MP Laurence Robertson, the joint-chair of the Racing and Bloodstock All-Party Parliamentary Group, and attended by MPs, peers, and racing administrators and professionals, including trainers Harry Eustace and Charlie Fellowes. In his speech, Andrew emphasized the importance of listening to concerns about the checks and ensuring they can be implemented in a way that protects customers without damaging racing.

He made a commitment to pilot anything before rolling it out and acknowledged the need for the Gambling Commission and the industry to collaborate to make progress in the interim period. The government has committed to reviewing the levy system in recognition of the financial impact affordability checks would have, and talks are ongoing between racing and bookmakers to see if they can agree to reforms. BHA chief executive Julie Harrington expressed concern about the potential financial impact of affordability checks on the sport.

She emphasized that a £50 million reduction in British racing’s annual finances would have profound implications, including job losses and reduced economic prospects for associated communities. Harrington urged MPs to attend and speak in support of British racing at an upcoming Westminster Hall debate on affordability checks. A Gambling Commission consultation on the proposals for affordability checks closed in October, and the commission’s chief executive, Andrew Rhodes, announced at the Ice London gambling industry show that they hoped to be publishing next steps on affordability checks “in the coming weeks”.

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