GC to review on-course bookmaker licences after underage betting

30 July 2019

The GB Gambling Commission is to review seven on-course bookmakers' licences after it was revealed that a number allowed minors to place a bet during the prestigious Royal Ascot horseracing event.

Last month police officers from the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, supported by the Commission and Trading Standards, carried out age verification purchasing tests during the event, which ran from 18 to 22 June.

The investigation revealed that of the 17 on-course operators tested, seven permitted a 16 year-old to place a £5 bet in-person, in breach of the 18+ age restriction on betting. The Commission did not reveal the identity of the bookmakers involved, though it did confirm that the seven will face disciplinary action.

“These licence reviews show how strongly we feel about underage gambling,” GC executive director Richard Watson said. “Every single gambling business must protect children from gambling but the on-course bookmakers results have remained unacceptable.”

Watson also said the on-course sector had a history of failing age verification exercises, with an average pass rate of just 35% over the past four years.

“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,” he said. “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.

“We welcome the positive initiate by the local authority and the racecourse to raise standards in the gambling industry.”

Cllr David Cannon, lead member for Public Protection at the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, added: “I am delighted that our officers led and organised this test purchasing. It is important that our residents, as well as visitors to the borough, are kept safe. It is not acceptable to take bets from young people and I am pleased that strong action is taking place.

“Our hard working team of officers will often carry out test purchasing across the borough to ensure our residents are kept safe and that traders are abiding by the rules.”

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