The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) will launch a new stakeholder consultation reviewing penalties for regulatory breaches and exploring how to improve operator accountability across gambling businesses.
The decision was announced by Senior UKGC Policy Director Tim Miller, speaking at Wednesday’s CMS Tax/Law Gambling Conference in London.
Miller stated that planned reviews ‘should come as no surprise”, as the Commission has warned industry leaders that it continues to see too many customer interaction failings in its casework.
Of concern, licensed operators continue to fail in their LCCP compliance duties in relation to identifying vulnerable customers, reporting indicators of harm, triggering customer interactions and using automated safer gambling systems and processes effectively.
“Both the Commission and the Government have stated publicly that more work is needed here, especially on how operators understand whether they are allowing customers to gamble in ways that are unaffordable. So a continuing focus on this should come as no surprise to anyone,” Miller said.
Scheduled as part of its summer agenda, the UKGC will launch a stakeholder consultation seeking feedback on how to “improve the way we calculate financial penalties for regulatory breaches to ensure they better drive compliance with the licensing objectives”.
A consultation on penalties is further required to help the UKGC be more transparent on its enforcement duties and how penalties are calculated in-line with operator failings.
Further feedback is required as to how licensed operators can improve their accountability to meet regulatory obligations, and whether improved standards and conduct can be achieved “by expanding the personal management licence regime”.
Miller revealed that its Summer consultation will see the UKGC undertake a new approach in how it gathers feedback from stakeholders, in its assessment of industry dynamics.
The policy director acknowledged previous criticism of UKGC consultations that had ‘sometimes taken a scattergun approach’ as Miller noted: “We find an issue and we push out a consultation, regardless of what else is going on or what else we have asked operators to do or provide views on at that time”.
Furthermore, concerns were raised whether stakeholder feedback had any impact on policy outcomes.
The Commission aims to fix concerns by launching ‘consultation windows’ during two set periods per year, where it seeks to benefit from a set timetable to better engage with wider stakeholders (operators, lawyers, public services) providing feedback on a schedule basis.
“I can’t promise we won’t ever be forced to issue a consultation outside these periods but that should be the exception rather than the rule and we would clearly explain why we needed to depart from the usual ‘window’,” Miller further explained.
New UKGC Chief Executive Andrew Rhodes had previously warned licensed operators, that his department would take a tougher stance on enforcement and penalties – in which the regulator will no longer tolerate repeat offenders.
“I’m sure even in those few sentences there is plenty of food for thought for a room full of lawyers! But I do want to say a bit about how we are going to approach consulting on these and future issues.” – Miller told the CMS audience.