Sarah Gardner, Deputy Chief Executive of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), projects that the UK gambling sector will learn the results of some planned consultations soon enough.
One of the main conclusions the sector was able to glean from the Gambling Act review White Paper was that there really aren’t many conclusions. Although suggesting numerous proposals, the need for further proposals was reiterated throughout the document.
In a speech to the Lotteries Council Annual Conference, Gardner informed stakeholders that the Commission needs to ‘get it right’ on its own consultations concerning Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice.
“Less haste and more speed will be our approach,” she asserted, although stating that the need to factor all consultation responses into consideration will ‘rightly take time’.
Despite this, the UKGC’s Deputy CEO did provide some form of timeframe. She said: “It is, however, our intention that the first set of White Paper-related LCCP consultations will be published this summer and pre-consultation engagement with stakeholders will have begun in a number of other policy areas.
“Whilst I’m not in a position to tell you what those will be yet, we will be publishing more information on this in the near future so do please keep an eye out for more updates.”
In the meantime, Gardner encouraged betting and gaming firms to operate according to three principles laid out by UKGC CEO Andrew Rhodes. These are “putting people first; doing the right thing; and, regulation that works for all”.
Although the speech was addressed to lottery stakeholders, much of what Garnder discussed had relevance to the wider sector. The White Paper, after all, focused much more heavily on betting and casinos than lotteries.
Gardner explained that putting people first should revolve around three objectives. Firstly, operators should work to prevent gambling from becoming a source of ‘crime or disorder’, and being associated with such activities.
Additional areas of focus should be “ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way” and “protecting children and other vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by gambling”.
Regulation for all, meanwhile, will encompass a continuation of the UKGC’s “collaborative approach” for the industry. This will look into rolling out account management and effective engagement policies.
Despite the “upheavals and traumas of recent years”, as Gardner put it, the Commission Executive stated that “it’s relatively clear that the British market looks and feels like the mature licensed market that it is”.
This is evident in the country’s gross gambling yield, as of March 2022, of £14.1bn and participation rates – based on the previous four weeks – of 44%.
However, overseeing this mature market will be regulatory reform and the UKGC’s enforcement responsibilities. Gardner reiterated Andrew Rhodes’ and Ian Angus’ (UKGC Head of Policy) previous statements that non-compliant operators will face repercussions.
“Where operators fail to get the message about what we expect from them, in terms of keeping gambling safe, fair and crime-free, we will, through our compliance and enforcement work, take action,” she told the Forum.
“But where operators have got the message – and many operators who fit that description are sat in this room today – we are open to engaging with you and collaborating to raise standards and improve outcomes more quickly than we can by acting alone. And that will be especially true for the work ahead to implement the Gambling Act Review White Paper.”