Chris Wright has become the latest prominent figure to express his frustration with affordability checks for punters in the United Kingdom, saying it is “ridiculous” that he is being asked for personal financial details to bet, but can spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on stallion coverings for his broodmares.
Wright, the co-founder of Chrysalis Records and the former majority owner of Queens Park Rangers and Wasps rugby club, said he had been hit with a demand for sensitive financial information by a bookmaker “out of the blue” at the weekend.
He said: “I don’t know what prompted it and I thought, ‘Oh my God, what am I going to do?’ I don’t want to divulge any of the information they are asking for. My affairs are quite complicated and they are for me, not for anyone else. So if I have to stop betting then I’ll have to stop betting and that’ll be it.
“I’m not a massive punter by any means and sometimes I’ll bet more and sometimes I’ll bet less. I do it for fun and if I can’t bet then it’ll be less fun, but I won’t be stopping having horses or anything. I wouldn’t even know if I’m up or down after all the years I’ve been betting as, for me, it’s something fun to do.”
In an earlier tweet, Wright had highlighted the request from a bookmaker to present “all my personal financial details so I can continue to have a £50 each way bet” while being able to spend much more on horses.
Bookmakers have been imposing intrusive affordability checks on punters under pressure from the Gambling Commission, which is running a consultation on proposals for the government’s gambling review.
Wright drew the comparison between his spend on his horses and his betting and the levels of checks he had to face for each. He said: “My mare Wonderful Tonight has a foal by Frankel and is in foal to Frankel, touch wood. We have another mare in foal to Lope De Vega and other valuable mares on the stud.
“I just think it’s ridiculous that I have to provide all this information to have a £50 each-way bet, but I can go to the sales and spend half a million on a mare, spend another £325,000 covering the mare and that’s fine.”
Wright’s concerns were echoed by Barry Hearn, an owner-breeder alongside his wife Sue of Gold Cup winner Subjectivist, who warned the over-zealous implementation of affordability checks would have a shattering impact on racing.
At the helm of Matchroom Sport, Hearn has led to a revolution in darts, boxing and snooker but he expressed concern for the future of Britain’s third most-watched sport in 2022, racing, if the proposals, currently the focus of a Gambling Commission consultation which closes on October 18, come into force.
He said: “The impact on racing is going to be massive. The industry isn’t completely reliant on betting but it’s a major part of the activities and finances. I don’t think there’s enough money going into racing from betting at the moment but this whole thing could be very damaging – if revenue is down it has a chain reaction and racing will be hit. The blanket ban simply doesn’t work, betting is there to be enjoyed and this will kill it.
“If I’m asked for a check, I won’t be passing on my information. I’m simply not prepared to be questioned about my finances, it’s private and should stay private. The principal is directly against, I believe, the rule of law. My privacy is more important to me than the ability to gamble and I expect there are a lot of people out there who feel the same. The whole thing smacks of Big Brother.” – Racing Post.