BHA ‘encouraged’ by parliamentary debate into affordability checks

By Sports Desk February 27, 2024

The British Horseracing Authority has welcomed the “valuable contributions” made by several ministers in Monday’s parliamentary debate into affordability checks.

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 during the debate at Westminster Hall, and the BHA’s chief executive Julie Harrington was encouraged by the discussions.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Harrington said: “Yesterday’s debate on the impact of affordability checks on British racing has shone a light on a hugely important issue for our sport.

“It was vital that MPs were given proper parliamentary time to thoroughly interrogate the government’s proposals and we were encouraged by the high turnout for a Westminster Hall debate.

“Many MPs made valuable contributions to the debate, and we are sure that Sports Minister Stuart Andrew will have listened with interest to the views expressed.

“From MPs of all parties and all sides of the debate, there was a clear recognition of the need for the government to protect and support British racing when reviewing gambling legislation.

“If our sport is to remain a healthy industry, supporting jobs in the rural economy and remaining competitive with our international rivals, we hope that government will heed this advice.

“We were encouraged by Minister Andrew ruling out the use of job titles and postcodes in the implementation of enhanced spending checks and confirming that these changes will at least be subject to a genuine pilot.

“We will continue to make the case into the heart of government that the impact of these checks both on our industry and racing bettors needs to be carefully considered and look forward to further discussions on this important issue for British racing with the Gambling Commission and DCMS.”

In Monday’s debate, Andrew said both the government and Gambling Commission had listened to the points raised, 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”.

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