In the wake of the news that the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is to review the licenses of seven on-course bookmakers, representatives from the sector have raised concerns about the existing age-verification measures in the on-course industry. 

According to the UKGC, seven bookmakers at Ascot allowed a 16-year-old to place a bet during the Royal meeting in June, and these operators will now face regulatory reviews. At the time of the announcement, the UKGC highlighted the serious nature of the problem, and stated that on-course bookmakers had a pass rate of 35 percent for the ‘Think 21’ initiative. 

This initiative, which is designed to ensure that on-course bookmakers take a stricter approach to accepting bets from those who may be underage, has been only partially successful, and on-course bookmakers have reported difficulties in identifying which punters are over the legal gambling age of eighteen, particularly at major meetings such as Royal Ascot. 

Other alternatives have been trialled. Doncaster racecourse introduced a wristband procedure to identify which racecourse goers were over the age of 18, but the trial was deemed to be unsuccessful. 

In the wake of the UKGC announcement, on-course bookmakers have expressed their concern about the difficulty of establishing the ages of racegoers, which prevents unique challenges when compared to venues such as betting shops, which can provide a physical barrier to entry. 

And according to Robin Grossmith, the director of the Federation of Racecourse Bookmakers (FRB), the on-course industry was actively involved in training and new initiatives to improve the situation. He said that the body had a relationship with the independent organisation Serve Legal, who are helping them to enforce the Think 21 initiative, and that they are developing educational seminars for operators, in collaboration with Serve Legal and the UKGC. 

Published by Andie Hughes

Based in England, Andie Hughes is a freelance betting writer with over a decade of experience in the industry. Andie has written for ESPN, Betfair, Sporting Life, and Boylesports, and can be contacted at

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