Affordability Cap More Damaging Than Covid Warns Former GVC Boss
A proposed limit on deposits will harm the betting & horseracing industry more than the covid-19 pandemic claims Kenny Alexander. The former GVC Boss warns of “enormous damage” if a soft cap on customer deposits is introduced.
The former chief executive of GVC Holdings Kenny Alexander has warned that the betting industry and horseracing, in particular, will suffer if a monthly cap of £100 is introduced in the UK.
The UK Gambling Commission, along with a report from the Gambling Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group, has recommended that deposit limits be placed on consumers. Affordability is a central theme in the government’s long-awaited review of the 2005 Gambling Act. The commission has indicated its belief that a monthly loss limit could protect at-risk consumers.
Although the Gambling Commission has mentioned no fixed amount to the ‘soft cap’, a figure of £100 has been mentioned in the UKGC’s call for evidence ahead of the 2005 Gambling Act review. This figure is deemed as the lowest possible threshold of a cap.
Alexander, whose horse Honeysuckle won the Irish Champion Hurdle recently, said of the soft cap:
“Everyone talks about the £100 stop loss affordability check, and I think that is wrong.
“For the gambling industry and for racing, it will be material. For racing, if you compare it to the damage the pandemic has caused, it will pale in significance to the damage this could cause. “The damage would be enormous. There will be a lot of job losses, and I don’t think it will solve the issue of problem gambling.
“There is no doubt about it, if you do anything to excess in your life then you will get damaged, whether you drink too much or smoke too much or eat junk food.
“But where else do you have to prove after £100 that you can afford it? I just don’t think its required and is a breach of social liberty that could actually make the matter worse,” Alexander added.
The former boss of GVC had just witnessed his horse win ten straight races in a row but admitted he was concerned about the industry in general. Horseracing has been hit hard with races being held behind closed doors, reducing course income but also affecting independent bookmakers who rely on spectators for their trade.
Alexander, who ran GVC before it became Entain, for 13 years, argues that the industry has made massive strides in protecting vulnerable customers and said he believed that government regulations on deposit limits could prove counterproductive. Saying:
“I ran GVC for what felt like 100 years and let me tell you Ladbrokes Coral has made massive strides in the area of affordability and looking after vulnerable gamblers,” he said.
“All of the big UK gambling companies have made massive strides and are doing a great job in that area, and I don’t think there is any need whatsoever for this £100 soft cap.
“It could make it worse by driving players to the black market where they will never get the protection you get at William Hill or Ladbrokes or Betfair or bet365.”
However, the former GVC CEO admitted that the sector’s current regulation was unfit for purpose, and a review was overdue. Adding: “I don’t agree with it [the £100 limit], but the train left the station a long time ago, and it will take quite an effort to stop it.”