Gambling Commission unveils new five-point gambling strategy

A new five-point plan for “fairer and safer gambling” has been unveiled by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).

The Commission’s Strategy 2018-2021, which sets out the regulator’s key areas of focus for the next three years, comes at a tense time for the industry, amid negative media publicity and questions about whether greater regulation is needed to protect young and vulnerable people from gambling products.

In its report, the UKGC has acknowledged that “risks are changing and evolving” within the industry, and that regulation must “move farther and faster” to address these risks.

Data cited in the report also suggests that public confidence and trust in gambling has deteriorated in recent years. Figures reveal that 34 per cent of the UK population currently agree that gambling is “fair and can be trusted” – a figure which is down from 49 per cent in 2008. Due to this, the Commission has reiterated its purpose “to safeguard consumers and the wider public” and has said that its strategy “presents a vision” for a “fairer and safer” gambling market going forward.

The Commission has outlined five key areas of focus for the three years ahead:

  1. Protecting the interests of consumers.
  2. Preventing harm to consumers and the public.
  3. Raising standards in the gambling market.
  4. Optimising returns to good causes from lotteries.
  5. Improving the way the Commission regulates.

Regarding the first point, the regulator states that “tougher and broader sanctions” will be introduced for gambling operators who are deemed to have acted irresponsibly. This comes amid mounting concerns that operators are not actively intervening in instances where customers are exhibiting signs of problem gambling behaviour.

In its report, it says: “We will use our powers to intervene on a precautionary basis if products, licensees or processes give rise to concerns, and we will take action against operators and personal licensees if there are persistent or systemic failures.”

In relation to the second and third points, the Commission’s report suggests that it will seek new ways for “consumers to be provided with more information about gambling and its risks.”

The report adds that the regulator will seek out new “effective and independent arrangements” to explore and resolve gambling-related complaints and disputes – whether involving consumers or otherwise.

It says: “We will focus, not just on gambling controls to help customers manage their gambling, but also on the products themselves, the provider, and the place or environment in which the gambling is taking place.”

It adds that it will “regulate and take precautionary action where necessary to reduce gambling-related harm.”

The Commission also states that it will step-up regulation all-round. This will include providing Government bodies and other organisations with “independent and well-evidenced advice on gambling and its impact” and “taking precautionary action” where necessary, in order to improve general compliance within the industry.

The full strategy can be accessed here, and YouTube videos explaining the Commission’s proposals in greater detail can be found here.

Richard Williams

Richard Williams

Partner – Joint-Head of Licensing, Gaming & Regulatory

+44 (0) 20 7307 2105

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This article is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action.