Persistent regulatory enforcement work regarding a failure to adhere to social responsibility and anti-money laundering rules are “simply unacceptable,” Andrew Rhodes, chief executive of the UK Gambling Commission, has stated in the regulator’s ‘Compliance and Enforcement Report’
Despite the year being “one of the busiest” against a backdrop of global disruption, Rhodes explains that while he is “impressed by the amount of enforcement work carried out” it is also “disappointing that it should be necessary”.
During the year, the Commission suspended five operator licenses, as well as revoking those of one operational entity and nine personal management holders.
Furthermore, £32.1m was paid by 15 gambling businesses, including Caesars Entertainment UK, Netbet, and White Hat Gaming, as a result of fines or regulatory settlements, which is a larger total than in any previous year.
However, Rhodes voiced concern at seeing “the same two weaknesses in almost every case,” those being the aforementioned social responsibility and AML, the reasons for which are labelled as “almost as concerning as the failings themselves”.
Citing casework carried out throughout the year, the UKGC states that operators are either not making suitable resources available or are putting commercial objectives ahead of regulatory ones.
“These regulations are there for two very good reasons – to protect people and ensure that gambling is crime-free,” Rhodes proclaims
“These rules underpin two of the three licensing objectives, without which it would be impossible for us to permit gambling as laid out in the Gambling Act 2005. So, adherence should be at the forefront of every operator’s mind.”
Emphasising that the “industry has the resources, skills and knowledge” to change the tide on such regulatory breaches, Rhodes says that the report represents an “informative and a timely reminder how the Commission seeks to ensure regulatory compliance”.
“Of course, I know that many gambling firms have had a difficult 18 months, and that the future of many companies was unclear. Hard decisions were made to save jobs and livelihoods,” he continues
“Whilst the threat of COVID-19 hasn’t gone away, the gambling sector has largely resumed operations. As Great Britain’s regulator for the gambling industry, we still see far too many breaches of regulations where everyone in the industry agrees we should not see them.”
Adding “Our enforcement and compliance work will continue to focus on customer protection, as consumers have every reason to expect.
“This will vary from paying very close attention to novel products to checking that operators are looking after their customers by meeting the LCCP requirements, and taking into account the current Commission guidance on anti-money laundering and customer interaction.”