Tim Miller, UKGC: regulators must ‘ramp up’ collaborative approaches

Regulators across the globe must unite to “further exploit the opportunities of international collaboration,” Tim Miller, executive director at the UK Gambling Commission, has proclaimed.

Making a ‘Regulatory Disruption: The case for international collaboration’ speech at the 2021 International Association of Gaming Regulators Conference, Miller stated organisations need to “significantly ramp up” collaborative approaches.

“However, that need for urgency is here. If there is one lesson we can take from the virus it is that we are all part of a single, global ecosystem,” he commented 

“When a virus can spread across the world so rapidly, ignoring international boundaries, it demonstrates just how interconnected all our lives are. 

“It shows how an event in one part of the world can have profound impacts in another. And the regulation of gambling is no different.”

Miller states that this necessity can be evidenced across international institutions, “most notably the World Health Organisation,” which he added “are beginning to see gambling harms as a transnational problem and are looking for transnational solutions”.

Urging regulators to “not be behind the curve on this,” Miller urges that the continuation of ambitious relationships is the “essential next step in tackling the challenges that internationalisation of the gambling market poses for all of us”.

The “blurring of lines between gambling and video games” is one particular area pinpointed as a “persistent area of concern,” where “collaboration has begun to make a difference”.

“So in many respects my call for collaboration is not about us trying to do something new, something especially ground breaking. Its about ensuring that our collaborative efforts are focussed, targeted and purposeful,” Miller continued.

“Over the coming months and years, I think there are several areas where we could concentrate our efforts to enhance the way we collaborate.

“Sharing best practice and learning from each other’s experiences is clearly an area we can all do more.”

Furthermore, Miller also looked at the sharing of intelligence as a further area which the opportunities of international collaboration could further exploit.

“The more we can share intelligence and coordinate the monitoring and reporting of emerging risks across jurisdictions, the more agile and efficient each of us will be in tackling them in our own regulatory back yard,” Miller stated.

Adding: “If operators clearly understood that their actions in one jurisdiction would be shared and understood across the international regulatory community it would help to concentrate minds. 

“It would help to reduce the risk of industry seeking to play one regulator off against another. It would also help to avoid the resource burden that can come from the at times piecemeal and unstructured ways that we sometimes seek regulatory information from each other.”

Finally, the discussion focuses on the impact of greater collaboration and sharing of intelligence in seeking greater harmonisation of regulatory approaches across jurisdictions.

Miller explained: “Now, I am not advocating a great rush to try and create a single set of regulations that would apply across all jurisdictions. That level of regulatory harmonisation would simply be unrealistic and most probably undesirable. 

“The demographics and the scale of our jurisdictions vary greatly as do the pressures from our wider economies and political systems. But equally, actively seeking a divergence of approach in a global gambling market would also not be realistic nor desirable.

“Ultimately we all fundamentally have the same roles to perform and broadly share the same priorities. So let’s be more ambitious than we have been. 

“Let’s identify those areas where we have sufficient commonality of approach where highlighting and maybe strengthening those similarities could help us raise standards across all our jurisdictions. 

“Where shared policy positions, perhaps even some shared codes would be desirable and possible. Because where there can be greater harmonisation in the ways we seek to protect players or address risk, everyone benefits. 

“The consumer benefits from knowing that they will be treated fairly wherever they are gambling. The industry benefits from the economies of scale that come from being able to comply with some similar standards wherever they are located. 

“And we as regulators benefit from knowing that, at least in some areas, our drive to raise standards at home won’t be undermined by distractions from abroad.”