Making his first public statement as Chairman of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), Marcus Boyle has outlined that UK gambling requires a tougher regulatory supervisor.
Writing an op-ed for The Times, Boyle stated that his initial focus had been on “identifying beneficial changes for both consumers and the industry”, in which the sector requires better regulation.
Appointed last September to replace Bill Moyes – whose tenure as Chairman of the UKGC was tarnished by the fallout of the Football Index affair – Boyle declared he would not stand still and wait for the government to conclude its White Paper review of recommendations in order to reform the sector.
Alongside leadership counterpart Andrews Rhodes, Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission, Boyle shared concerns about “persistently failing operators”.
Regulatory penalties totalling £130 million over the course of the past five years were deemed non-effective deterrents for re-offenders, as UKGC investigations had shown jaw-dropping examples of operators being nonchalant on customer care duties.
Hence, a tougher commission will move forward with ‘cumulative sanction packages’ that will not only increase financial penalties and include “fines being based on a percentage of customer takings, short or long-term suspensions and attaching significant conditions to licences”.
Of significance, Boyle underscored that enforcement would be focused on changing the behaviour of operators, which will require the full oversight of corporate governance and personal accountability of the management of gambling licences.
“We will not tolerate an attitude of lowest possible compliance being sufficient,” Boyle remarked.
“We expect our licence-holders to genuinely commit and learn from failings. Licences will be withdrawn where standards are not met, meaning that individuals could not hold senior positions in the industry. Licence-holders should aim for the highest standards.”
New initiatives will see the Commission work with ‘leading operators’ to study the safer gambling algorithms used to spot individuals at risk of harm and the operators’ resulting practices to protect those individuals.
Furthermore, the UKGC’s new Chair would like to ‘introduce a new mandatory, independent audit of standards and accreditation for those achieving the highest levels’.
Boyle outlined his support for UK gambling to be monitored using technology and deeper data, in which the Commission aims to establish its Single Customer View as a headline regulatory objective.
As the government finalises the White Paper recommending new gambling policies – Boyle outlined that bettors would be better safeguarded by the ‘soft credit checks that do not have an impact on their credit rating to provide real-time affordability assessments’.
“I welcome the Gambling Act review and believe that it will result in a legislative environment that meets the needs of this global industry and gives the commission the capacity to regulate it,” Boyle concluded.
“This will help to keep people safe from harm while keeping the enjoyment of the recreational gambler.”