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MPs urge affordability check rethink in Westminster Hall debate

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A number of MPs called for ministers to reconsider affordability checks during in a debate at Westminster Hall on Monday.

It was the first chance for MPs to properly interrogate proposals of the implementation of the supposedly “frictionless” checks after 100,000 people signed an e-petition to trigger the debate.

Matt Hancock, who has Newmarket within his constituency, Connor McGinn, whose St Helens North constituency includes Haydock, and Philip Davies were among MPs to lay out arguments against the checks.

Gambling minister Stuart Andrew said both the government and Gambling Commission had listened to the points, although the proposals will proceed, with a pilot of enhanced checks running for “a minimum of four months, during which time the commission will consider all issues that arise”.

Andrew also underlined the concerns about the possible impact of the checks on racing are being taken “extremely seriously”.

He said: “I am clear that we must ensure that the checks do not adversely affect racing or those who work in the sector, or interrupt the customer journey.

“They also must not push away high-net-worth individuals such as owners and trainers that invest in the sport.

“The Gambling Commission has worked very closely with operators to explore the practical aspects of implementing the checks, and colleagues have said that they have seen an improved relationship between the commission and the industry. The commission has also been carefully considering responses to the consultation, which have helped to shape the implementation plans.

“We want to protect those at risk – I make no apology for our doing that – with minimal disruption to the majority, who I recognise bet on horseracing with no ill effect.”

Shadow gambling minister Stephanie Peacock called for the government to outline how it could ensure checks are “accurate, frictionless and non-intrusive for consumers”.

“I think there is a consensus over the need to update our regulation so that vulnerable people are better protected from gambling harms in the modern age,” she said.

“But at the same time it is the punters, racing and the gambling industry that deserves some clarity on how the government will ensure affordability checks are carried out with accuracy and in a way that does not cause unnecessary friction for those gambling responsibly.”