The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has wiped fines that were imposed on seven racecourse bookmakers for accepting bets from an underage test purchaser at Royal Ascot last year. Betting operators called the fines “disproportionate” from the very start as they were ordered to pay 2.5% of their annual gross gambling yield.
The UKGC alongside police and trading standards carried out test purchasing with a 16-year-old during the famous royal meeting at the Berkshire racecourse. During the test, 17 bookmakers were involved, with 10 of them asking for a valid proof of identification.
The UKGC made the decision in light of the new challenges that the industry is facing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of pursuing the fine, the industry regulator decided to address bookmakers involved in providing underaged gambling with “advice to conduct” letters and warnings. The Commission explained how protecting children and teenagers is one of their top priorities, and all pardoned operators will be under strict supervision and extensively monitored. In case they make another violation, the UKGC expressed readiness to act immediately.
Federation of Racecourse Bookmakers has welcomed the decision and referred to it as a “balanced judgment”, while promising to increase the level of safety and protection.