Sarah Gardner, Deputy CEO of the UK Gambling Commission, has announced that two items will soon be published to reinforce the responsibilities of UK licensees regarding third parties and white label arrangements and provide guidance to operators on customer interaction.
Speaking at the KPMG Gibraltar eSummit earlier this week, Gardner noted that the items are part of Advice to Government, the UKGC’s commitment to developing recommendations for the Gambling Act Review.
The Deputy CEO said: “We will shortly publish two items that we committed to deliver in our advice to Government, reinforcing licensees’ responsibilities regarding third parties and white label arrangements as well as our vulnerability statement, which links to our guidance for operators on customer interaction.”
Gardner declared that the UKGC intends to publish the first tranche of Gambling Act Review-related consultations in July, a timeline that was also stated by UKGC CEO Andrew Rhodes at CasinoBeats Summit in May.
The Deputy CEO added that the consultations will show the UKGC’s commitment to “maintaining momentum and making progress” in line with the white paper’s commitments and expectations.
This summer, the commission intends to consult on proposals in four areas: age verification in premises, removing features which increase intensity of play on non-slots casino games online, cross-selling – specifically giving the consumer power over what marketing they receive, and financial risk and vulnerability checks.
Gardner also asked for contributions from operators, trade bodies, consumers, and those with lived experiences to these consultations.
Several regulatory failings that had occurred over the past financial year were highlighted by the Deputy CEO in her speech, where customers had lost tens of thousands of pounds in a short amount of time without gambling harm checks in place.
In the 2022/23 financial year alone, the UKGC handed out £60m in fines, compared to just £1.7m in 2016/17.
Gardner made it clear that “failings like this cannot continue”, but she did add that the commission is seeing “some hopeful signs that things are improving”.
“I’m not saying we’ve seen an end to unacceptable breaches and we don’t have extensive data as yet, but anecdotally in our compliance work, we do appear to be seeing less of the types of outrageous and indefensible examples I’ve just given. We remain cautious and we don’t expect anyone in the sector to start patting themselves on the back anytime soon, but this is what we want to see.
“What’s more, if this trend continues it will mean the commission has more time and more resources to start dealing with areas that are far less black and white and where we know operators would welcome further insight into our expectations.”
Gardner noted that the most significant consultations will last 12 weeks as the UKGC wants to “get implementation of the Gambling Act Review White Paper right” with a “structured implementation timetable” and a “less haste and more speed” approach.
With over 60 areas of work to carry out, the Deputy CEO said that regulation implementation will take several years and there will be a prioritisation of resources, but she also did add that a second tranche of consultations has been scheduled for the autumn.
The UKGC is taking this approach to implementation to make sure that well-meaning policy changes don’t have “unintended consequences for the public due to the way they were implemented in the real world”.
Gardner ended her speech by calling on all those interested in UK gambling regulation to “engage with the commission and Government in a spirit of collaboration”, highlighting the multi-operator risk-sharing solution GamProtect as a positive example of such collaboration.
The Deputy CEO added that the UKGC is continuing to work with others on improving the data, research and evidence around gambling by hosting conferences, providing updates on improving its Participation and Prevalence statistics as well as the evidence gaps that could be filled in the next three years.
The commission has also continued to be active internationally, forming strong relationships with global regulators to share information and best practice on a regular basis.
Gardner concluded: “The next few years represent a real opportunity for all parties to make a decisive difference towards gambling in Great Britain being safer, fairer and crime-free.
“Implementing the Gambling Act Review will take time, improving the evidence base as well. So does eliminating unacceptable failings. But it is the commission’s firm view that we can achieve all of this in the months and years ahead.”