The white paper – where next

As predicted in J4P’s previous blog nobody seems happy with the white paper:

J4P’s blog was pretty accurate.  If only we were as good at betting, but to be fair J4P had far more inside information on the draft white paper than we do when backing horses, except those of us who own legs of horses.

It’s time to be selfish and cut out the clutter in the white paper.  What in this document is of most importance to those who like a bet?  May J4P suggest:

  • A new ombudsman
  • Recognition by government that the UK licensed gambling industry is selling a lie, e.g. the industry must be more transparent about restricting those who are profiled as possible winners on sports betting and those who have won
  • A horse racing levy based on turnover
  • Affordability checks

J4P thinks this list is strongly interconnected.  We’d better explain.  Simple really, get the ombudsman right, get a minimum bet (liability) law and affordability becomes a bee sting instead of a King Cobra bite.

One and four are open to public consultation.  Number two isn’t and will require new legislation.  Number three will, no doubt, be dealt with using the established channels.

1. A new ombudsman

This has always been one of J4P’s top three priorities, so it’s nice to see it come to fruition after circa eight years of campaigning for it. Punters should be very careful though, they also should not misrepresent what they think this service might look like – we don’t know.  Punters must not miss the chance to shape the new service.  There is every chance that punters will be excluded, except for submitting to the consultation.  From the white paper:

“We will work with the industry to create an ombudsman to adjudicate complaints and order redress when things go wrong.”

Customers, be they sports punters, casino players or poker players pay for everything.  There would be no commercial gambling companies if customers didn’t gamble.  To develop an ombudsman service without customers at the core of its development would be a scandal (another, of many scandals, to be fair).

Lobby point 1 – customers must be represented at every stage of the development of the ombudsman or a legal challenge should be prepared to block any launch.

As a gambling customer if you think an ombudsman developed appropriately is a bad idea, J4P doesn’t understand you.

2. Recognition by government that the UK licensed gambling industry is selling a lie, e.g. the industry must be more transparent about restricting those who are profiled as possible winners on sports betting and those who have won

Separate from the white paper, punters must campaign for a minimum bet (liability) law (MBL).  Until somebody tells J4P that there is a better way to minimise the impact of affordability checks and to obtain a fair bet on sports up to a certain liability – people have had loads of chances and nobody has – punters must fight for a MBL.

Lobby point 2 – Start work immediately on why a MBL is best for nearly every party and start pestering the DCMS, the GC, and everyone else who needs to be pestered. 

J4P has already drawn up a list of 10 bullet points as to why the ‘right to bet law in the UK’ should be repealed – have you?  By the way, none of the bullet points are, because “I’ll tell my Mum if we don’t get one.”

If you are a punter and don’t agree with fighting for a MBL and you don’t have another better idea, please think again.  Buying identities and using the black market is so ‘old hat’, it is time for change.

3. A horse racing levy based on turnover

Yes, this is very specific to horse racing.  Horse racing punters, therefore should recognise this and they should avoid coming across as being more important than other sports punters.  Nevertheless, it is important strategically for horse racing punters.  The horse racing industry will never support a MBL if they think it will cost them income, e.g. whilst the levy is still based on profit.

Lobby point 3 – Support the Chair of the British Horse Racing Authority (BHA) in his pursuit of a levy based on turnover

If all you wish to do as a punter is abuse the BHA, please think again, you’re hurting punters.  The BHA hasn’t been great for punters, but has incredible access to Westminster; punters need the BHA on our side, abuse will never achieve that.

As a punter, if you are more interested in 0.25-0.5% being shaved off overrounds for an event, you’re not thinking strategically.  A levy based on turnover brings the BHA much closer to their customers (many, many punters).

4. Affordability checks

J4P is sure many will still be thinking why is this not number one?

J4P’s volunteers have a long history of refusing to comply with the provision of personal information to gambling companies.  J4P has also exposed and helped to expose illegal and other unnecessary privacy practices, whilst others kept quiet or just couldn’t be bothered.  Despite all this work with a number of others, affordability checks are going to happen.  Why is a question that, some who know better have rarely touched on in the media:

It is now proven beyond doubt that UK licensed gambling companies can’t behave.  Yes, some gambling companies have improved quite dramatically in their protection of those who have a gambling disorder, which could be you at any time, but affordability checks will still happen.  The UK licences too many gambling companies, therefore on a mathematical basis alone, some will be ‘wrong-uns’, hence another reason why we are where we are.

There is a desperate need for sports punters to get involved in the consultation about affordability.  J4P would suggest that the priority is to explain to those making decisions how flexibility is needed around set figures for losses over specific periods of time and how data can be used to distinguish between:

  • Those who may lose, but still bet with some logic that hints at betting recreationally, despite having little chance of winning
  • Those who may lose on occasion, but are likely to win the money back
  • Those who are likely to win despite bad runs
  • Those who may have a gambling disorder

NB: Never forget some customers will move between groups over a period of time.

Identifying differing types of customers and forcing gambling companies to apply well known logic from the data they have is a primary core, alongside some loss figures suggestions, for moving forward.  However, it is useless to those who like a bet, if they can’t get a bet up to certain limits, hence why affordability checks are four not one.

Lobby point 4 – Educate those in Westminster and those at the Gambling Commission how best to force gambling companies to use their highly talented traders and others to distinguish between types of customer.  This must include significant fines for individual case failures where applicable 

Lobby point 5 – Campaign for a system where gambling executives will lose their personal licences to work in the gambling industry in the UK when their companies transgress

As a punter if you still think, where we are, is mainly the fault of those who are referred to as gambling prohibitionist groups, you need to think again.  If you are still keen to apportion most of the blame on families or even in some cases to publicly abuse bereaved families and partners, you are doing punters a huge disservice in the political and lobbying sphere.  In fact, you are making things worse for the vast majority of punters.

Other matters

J4P has chosen not to focus on the single customer view at this time as we believe it is unlikely to make any form of rapid progress whilst the Betting and Gaming Council are in charge of it – see history for evidence.  It’s also possible that it will never fulfil present UK privacy law and certainly could be open to legal challenge, if and when, it does appear.


As a customer you may not agree with any of this blog or only parts of it, that’s fine.  J4P would be keen to hear your plans post the white paper and how you intend to implement them.

Now is the time for punters to become more politically aware and to strongly emphasise that all the income that government, sports, media organisations/people, affiliates and others benefit from, would not be there if it wasn’t for them.  Customers/punters/gamblers/bettors – you choose your term – are an extremely important group of consumers.  They have and still are being treated with contempt, including by some who claim to be their ‘friends’.

J4P’s next blog will be about approaches to lobbying and who punters probably should not trust, including some of their own.