SBC News Tim Miller: UKGC consultations will not reopen White Paper debates

Tim Miller: UKGC consultations will not reopen White Paper debates

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has updated stakeholders on its plans following the publication of the Gambling Act review White Paper, outlining that the results of its consultations should be due by the end of the summer.

Last week’s recommendations published by the DCMS put forward a number of recommended changes for UK gambling’s regulatory framework. However, the clarity stakeholders were expecting was clouded by the announcement of further consultations on a range of issues, which are yet to be determined. 

Writing in a blog post, Tim Miller, UKGC Executive Director, asserted that whilst the Commission will itself be subject to some of the DCMS consultations, these discussions will not function as a means to amend certain proposals.

He explained: “It is 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. 

“Importantly, these consultations will be sharply focussed on how changes are implemented. Whilst not all, many questions of public policy have been settled by the White Paper itself. Where they have, our consultations will not be an opportunity to reopen those debates.”

Should the White Paper’s recommendations be fully incorporated into a new regulatory framework, the UKGC is poised to acquire several new powers and responsibilities.

The Commission did also come under some scrutiny during the review, with its handling of the BetIndex collapse a key focal point. Although the White Paper did state that ‘recommendations’ have been made for improvement, much of the document revolved around the UKGC’s added powers.

Miller noted that the UKGC’s new responsibilities will include great powers to tackle illegal gambling and the ability to facilitate cross-government collaboration, DCMS has also called on the Commission to closely monitor customer VIP schemes.

In the White Paper’s conclusions, DCMS policy makers laid out plans for the Commission to take on the ability to regulate new business owners and reflect the ‘increased complexity’ of the entities under its remit.

As such, there have been suggestions made to ensure that licensees ‘are not able to interfere with the Commission’s ability to conclude investigations’ or ‘move their finances’ to reduce the size of fines, – a counter measure which has increased in regularity over the past year.

Miller continued: “Whilst we will move quickly to start implementing White Paper commitments, we will also want to ensure that as wide a variety of experiences and expertise inform the way that those commitments are turned into practical reality. 

“History shows too many examples of well-meaning policy changes having unintended consequences for the public due to the way they were implemented in the real world. We will not want to make that mistake.”

Both DCMS and the UKGC have stressed repeatedly over the past few years that an ‘evidence-based’ approach has informed development of the Gambling Act review’s outcomes.

This attitude will apparently continue if Miller’s statement is anything to go by, with the UKGC DIrector adding that stakeholders will ‘need to consider and input’ into the coming stages of the review’s implementation.

He explained that in its proceeding years, adoption of White Paper proposals will follow a framework of development, implementation, evaluation and review.

However, he concluded by making two things clear – firstly, that the recommendations are not solid legislative conclusions, and so current rules and regulations remain the same, and secondly, that the UKGC will continue to strictly uphold standards.

Miller’s statement ended: “Of course, this focus on implementing the recommendations in the White Paper as quickly as possible will not distract us from continuing to robustly pursue compliance with our existing requirements. 

“Where gambling operators fail to meet our standards we will continue to take action to protect consumers and raise standards, whilst at the same time playing our part in meeting the Government’s ambition of delivering gambling reform for the digital age.”

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