UKGC to review bookmaker licenses on-course due to underage betting

A new report from the UK Gambling Commission has highlighted the problem of underage gambling at on-course bookmakers. The Ascot Races in June saw 7 out of the 17 on-course bookmakers guilty of violating the 18+ law. Withholding the names of the culprits, the UK GC said that this violation throughout the week highlights the problems that still exist within the trackside betting industry.

Four people with tick signs on their face

The age verification issues are growing with trackside bookies. © Pixabay.

The Ascot racecourse was swarming with police to help enforce the law. But the sting operation that was conducted has shone a light on the lacklustre approach that many bookmakers take to checking the identification of customers. In 7 out of the 17 bookies on trackside, a 16-year-old was able to place a £5 bet in person. The current guidance from the gambling commission advises challenge any customer below the age of 21.

The decision not to reveal the identity of guilty bookmakers in this case certainly seems peculiar to say the least. But one thing has been assured, all the rule violators will receive significant financial penalties, and their license to operate trackside at Ascot may be rescinded. In the era of hefty penalties for rule-breakers and betting companies not taking the law seriously, it would be a major surprise if they didn’t take a tough stance in this instance.

Despite various educational attempts to raise standards, by ourselves and the trade bodies, the on-course sector has historically performed poorly in both underage gambling test purchase exercises and Think 21 testing. Pass rates have failed to meet the standards expected and the sector has consistently performed to levels below those we see in other gambling and age-restricted products.Richard Watson, Gambling Commission chief executive

The police have vowed to continue using their agents across the South of England, to protect young people and ensure the operators are abiding by the trading laws. It will be a tough few weeks whilst the full details of the violations are laid to bear, but once the UK GC reach a conclusion on the issues at hand. The industry analysts have made their point, and no bookmaker worth their salt with have an interest in headlines like these occurring again in the near future.

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