Anonymous letters to newspapers don't count as evidence

'Talking Horses: letter shows fears of £60m hit to racing from bet reforms' claimed an article in The Guardian last week. It referenced a letter to MPs by an unidentified author claiming to be “reliably informed” about the alleged danger to horse racing from online gambling companies being required to carry out affordability checks.

The government's Gambling Act Review 'call for evidence' is ongoing - but an anonymous author claiming to be “reliably informed” should not qualify as evidence. Evidence should only be considered if documents are made available for public scrutiny — including this letter.

The author claims that betting on horse racing is “skill based” and therefore less likely to trigger problem gambling.

All race and sports betting are skill based for those that take the time and interest to develop those skills. However, there is no point being skilful at any form of betting unless you can get an adequate wager on at the price you regard as attractive.

Online betting operators are very skilled at identifying which gamblers are likely to be winners or even break-level gamblers.

They are known to restrict wagers to trivial amounts, or even close accounts of skilful bettors entirely.

Horse racing survived easily for decades without any revenue stream from online betting. So the risk to horse racing isn’t affordability checks online, which would restrict only those being harmed. The real risk is betting operators alienating its regular punters by using algorithms to close or restrict accounts, in a systematic attempt to stop anyone winning.