ROA Proposes no affordability checks for Racehorse Owners

25 October 2023

The Racehorse Owners Association has today revealed that it formally responded to the Government’s Gambling White Paper, the consultation period on which closed last week, calling for racehorse owners to be exempt from any affordability checks.

Under the ROA’s proposal, any registered owner with the equivalent of at least one horse in training (including part-shares) would be exempt from the affordability checks proposed in the White Paper. Racehorse owners invest over £32million each month in the rural economy through the payment of training fees, with the annual investment, including the purchase of horses to go into training, totalling some £650million.

Many owners who enter the sport do so because they enjoy a bet, in particular on their own horses. Plenty of these owners are already having their betting activity restricted by affordability checks and many of them have stated publicly that they will reduce or end their ownership interests as a result, as widely reported in the racing media.

Charlie Liverton, Chief Executive of the Racehorse Owners Association, said: "The role of the ROA is to represent and defend the interests of owners and to promote racehorse ownership.

"It is clearly bizarre that an owner can spend tens of thousands of pounds or more purchasing a racehorse and further tens of thousands of pounds on training fees, both without any affordability checks, and then face potentially intrusive financial checks if they lose more than £2000 over 90 days betting on them.

"It is hard to imagine that racehorse owners are the people that the Government and the Gambling Commission have in mind with these affordability checks, so we therefore proposed a common sense exemption.

"Stuart Andrew, the Minister, has always made it clear that he does not want to do anything to damage horseracing and that this is a genuine consultation where sensible proposals will be taken on board.  He can prove that to be the case by agreeing to our proposal which would certainly provide a welcome boost to the sport and to owners"

Prominent owner Max McNeill has been a major investor in National Hunt horses over the past 15 years and currently owns or part-owns over 30 horses. He added: “I fully support the ROA’s proposal. For many people like me, having a bet on your horses is a big part of the fun of being an owner. If these affordability checks mean that effectively I can only have a very small bet, or indeed have an account closed for no good reason, then I will certainly consider reducing my involvement significantly.”     

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