By Nicky Henderson
It is possible some of you may not yet have realised why you need to be hugely worried about affordability checks. If so, I can empathise because, until recently, I was just the same.
I'm not a punter, so I couldn't see why I needed to be concerned. We all have lots to worry about from one day to the next, so why get irate about punters being told whether or not they can have a bet? Affordability checks were not my problem. Or so I thought.
In recent weeks I have realised that this very much is my problem. If you are reading this, you are a racing fan, which means it's your problem as well.
I have spoken to one or two quite serious punters who are already being impacted by affordability checks and are furious that the gambling white paper is set to make it even harder for them. They are adamant they are not going to hand over their personal financial documents. I don't blame them. Why should they or any punter, big or small, be told whether or not they can afford to have a bet?
It is completely wrong in principle - and even if you don't bet, it doesn't mean this has nothing to do with you. Affordability checks are going to smash a hole in racing's finances and do untold damage to British racing and rural communities. That's why I've been urging people in Lambourn to sign the sport's petition against affordability checks. I'm now using this letter to ask you to sign as well. This is a massive issue and we must do all we can to make a difference. Sign the petition now. It takes less than two minutes.
By Sir Mark Prescott
Our civil liberties are being attacked constantly - most importantly, freedom of speech and the presumption of innocence.
The government is currently consulting on a new policy that would result in the limiting of our freedom to have a bet through the introduction of formalised affordability checks. It threatens not only our personal freedom but also British horseracing’s finances.
Betting is an integral part of the sport. For some owners, taking on the bookmakers is inextricably linked to why they own horses. For countless other people, their love of racing is inseparable from the pleasure punting brings them.
I can see no good reason why the state should be allowed to take that pleasure away from any of us. I also believe affordability checks may well have the disastrous effect of triggering a surge in illegal betting. That really would place the vulnerable people in danger - and these are the very people whom the government purport to wish to protect.
For all these reasons, I support British racing’s petition, calling on the government to halt the introduction of affordability checks.
If you have already signed that petition, thank you.
If you have not, please do so and join those of us who are attempting to send a powerful message to the government to stop meddling in that which they don’t understand.
Sign the petition now. It takes less than two minutes.
Both of the letters above were originally sent to the Racing Post and shared with its readers but are reproduced here, with permission, to encourage racingtv.com's audience to help get the petition over 100,000 signatures and prompt a Parliamentary debate.
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