The Parliamentary All Party Betting & Gaming Group wants to hear from any operators or their advisers who believe that the Gambling Commission has acted in breach of the Regulators Code

A copy of the code can be found here 

The Regulators Code is laid out in the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006. Regulators must have regard to the Code when developing policies and operational procedures that guide their regulatory activities. Regulators must equally have regard to the Code when setting standards or giving guidance which will guide the regulatory activities of other regulators

The Parliamentary All Party Betting & Gaming Group has heard that there are many operators who believe the Commission has acted in breach of this code and we would like to hear from them.

Examples of instances where we have been told that the Gambling Commission have breached the Code are:

1. Regulators should carry out their activities in a way that supports those they regulate to comply and grow

The Gambling Commission through its Public Health approach is actively seeking to reduce the amount of gambling this actively seeking to reduce the industry size. An analysis of all public comments about the industry shows an almost 100% critical approach.

1.1 Regulators should avoid imposing unnecessary regulatory burdens through their regulatory activities and should assess whether similar social, environmental and economic outcomes could be achieved by less burdensome means. Regulators should choose proportionate approaches to those they regulate, based on relevant factors including, for example, business size and capacity.

Affordability!

2. Regulators should provide simple and straightforward ways to engage with those they regulate and hear their views

There is no formal way that the Gambling Commission listens to the views of the industry on an on-going basis. The only way it happens is when there is a consultation. The example of the Regulatory Panel Reform: Consultation Response – published 21st July 2021 where universal condemnation of the proposals by the industry were completely dismissed shows what little value this only method has

3. Regulators should base their regulatory activities on risk

The Gambling Commission has been repeatedly ratcheting up their regulations to prevent problem gambling while the level of problem gambling is not only one of the lowest in the world but is also falling. A prime example are the Covid-19 restrictions introduced on dubious evidence of the potential for an epidemic of problem gambling due to lockdown. The epidemic never happened and the restrictions have been kept in place even though all pandemic restrictions have been removed.

3.5 Regulators should review the effectiveness of their chosen regulatory activities in delivering the desired outcomes and make any necessary adjustments accordingly.

As per the criticisms of the Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office in 2020, the Gambling Commission undertakes no research into the effectiveness of the regulations it introduces and uses only the flimsiest of evidence for introducing new regulations

5. Regulators should ensure clear information, guidance and advice is available to help those they regulate meet their responsibilities to comply

The Gambling Commission strategy of issuing guidance rather than clearly defined regulations and of telling operators that all of their publications, documents and speeches have regulatory importance means that an operator can not be compliant if it abides simply by the regulations laid out in the Licensing Conditions and Codes of Practice. This leaves many having to guess at what being compliant means. 

An example would be the writing of an AML Risk Assessment which every operator is obliged to do. Ironically, the previous CEO of the Commission, criticised the industry for a widespread inability to correctly perform this task.  The fact is that if an operator follows the scant guidelines provided as to how to do it, they will fail as the experience of many operators who have had a review by the Commission has shown. It is only by crowd sourcing of information of those who have failed that the current belief is that the following documents are expected to referenced, even though there is no definitive instruction by the Commission to do so:

  • Gambling Act 2005

  • UKGC Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice

  • Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

  • Terrorism Act 2000

  • Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 (casinos only)

  • Gambling Anti-money Laundering Group (GAMLG AML Risk Assessment for Licensed Betting Offices (LBOs) and Remote Gambling Industries

  • UKGC Guidance for remote and non-remote casinos: fifth edition, (Revision 2), published February 2021

  • UKGC’s Duties and responsibilities under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA), Advice to operators (excluding casino operators), Fourth edition (Revision 1), November 2020.

  • National risk assessment of money laundering and terrorist financing 2020, HM Treasury & Home Office, December 2020

  • The money laundering and terrorist financing risks within the British gambling industry, UKGC, December 2020

  • Money laundering and terrorist financing risk within the British gambling industry, UKGC, 2019

  • Money laundering and terrorist financing risk within the British gambling industry Risk assessment, UKGC, November 2017 (referred to as 2018)

  • Raising Standards for consumers - Compliance and Enforcement report 2019 to 2020, UKGC, November 2020

  • Raising Standards for Consumers - Enforcement report 2018/19, UKGC, (unavailable on UKGC website as is the 2017/2018)

  • National Strategic Assessment, UKGC, 2020

6.3 Information published to meet the provisions of this Code should be easily accessible, including being available at a single point on the regulator’s website that is clearly signposted, and it should be kept up to date.

The Gambling Commission's new website is full of dead links, the search engine is atrocious and many of the documents that the Commission require operators to refer to are not available

These examples hopefully provide some idea of what is meant by being in breach of the Regulators Code. Industry members have complained to us that they feel that the Commission has acted 'out of control' and that they have no avenue for redress. Judicial Review has been threatened a number of times but the Commission has negotiated this away. If there is evidence to make a case that the Commission is in breach of the Regulators Code we can hopefully convince government to intervene.

 

The Group will consider all submissions for this category and confer with the submitter if we feel their example may be better placed in another category. You may submit examples that are similar to the ones detailed above.

We stress that we will publish all examples anonymously but we need you to provide your details so we can confirm you are a genuine member of the industry or its advisers. 

The deadline for submissions is December 1st 2021

Please use the form below to submit your examples of where you believe the Gambling Commission has been in breach of the Regulators Code:

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