News

On-Course Bookies Under Scrutiny Over Age Limits

On-course bookmakers are making news headlines following a recent incident during which a 16-year old bettor was allowed to place a bet on a race at this year’s Royal Ascot. The UK Gambling Commission has subsequently announced that it will be investigating the operations of all locally licensed on-course bookies so as to ensure that all activities are 100% regulated and above-board.

Age verification measures must be immediately ramped up said the regulator, and new measures will now be signed into force so as to ensure that there are no repeats of the recent controversial incident.

Negligence Instead Of Wilful

The issue appears to be not so much wilful misconduct, but instead a matter of gross negligence. Despite the nation-wide “Think 21” initiative, bookies continue to abandon their regulatory responsibilities in terms of under-age gambling and betting, which is now officially an issue of major concern to the UK Gambling Commission.

But that’s not to say that on-course bookies have made light of the recent events. After proper consultation with various role players in the sports betting sector, new safeguards and measures have now been put into place so as to ensure more effective compliance with rules and regulations governing under-age betting on sports.

Safeguarding The Masses

One of the main issues at play appears to be a concept that is known as a “family day out” event. The erection and enforcement of age-barriers appears to be a daunting task and allowing some members of a family to cross a certain barrier but not others, isn’t at all practical.

Various safeguards have been implemented in the past, with the affixing of special wrist-bands at Doncaster Racecourse being but one example of a concept that did not prove to be all that effective. The challenge facing the industry is nothing short of mammoth. Consider for example the fact that an event like the Royal Ascot is known to attract up to as many as 300,000 visitors on any given day. Now imagine enforcing an age-appropriate standard across the board at such an event. Unlike in the online sector where regulating age is slightly less complex and most sportsbooks utilise stringent verification processes during sign up and for all deposits, the land-based betting shops accept far greater sums of cash rather than processing credit, debit or eWallet transactions, and verifying ages has to be done on a case by case basis. Not always easy when there are thousands of punters standing in line.

Industry Is Playing Its Part

Christopher Hudson, who is the president of The British Racecourse Bookmakers’ Association, recently shed some light on the topic of the enforcement of age-appropriate safeguards. According to Hudson, the majority of bookies currently operating on-course are quite concerned about the industry’s obvious failure to implement proper age checks. Hudson also said that the Association has for many years worked closely together with the UK Gambling Commission in order to establish age verification as well as a number of other safeguards. Age verification especially, said Hudson, has been a thorn in the Association’s shoe for the longest time, and specifically due to the level of practical difficulty when talking effective implementation.

But on-course bookies are doing what they can to the best of their abilities points out Robin Grossmith, who is the Director of the Federation of Racecourse Bookmakers. A failure may be a failure and no laughing matter, said Grossmith, but this does not mean that the industry has failed in its entirety. It simply means that more must be done so as to ensure the efficacy of the system.

Grossmith also confirmed that the FRB has established a long-term partnership relationship with independent service provider Serve Legal in an attempt to more effectively subscribe to the essence of what Think 21 hopes to achieve in the sports betting industry.

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