The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) disclosed plans on Friday to unveil the first quartet of consultations from the Gambling Act review white paper, complemented by two other projects. The publication of the white paper in April prompted wide-ranging public commentary, predominantly focusing on the sheer volume of proposals in the consultations.
Consultations in Focus
The consultations slated for this month’s publication encompass several key areas, including:
- Verifying age in premises
- The design of online games
- Marketing directly and cross-selling
- Financial risk assessments and vulnerability checks for online operators
Among these, financial risk checks on operators, colloquially referred to as affordability checks, have provoked the most controversy. The UK gambling trade body, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), has been leading the industry criticism of the review, particularly focusing on this provision. Some industry participants are apprehensive that stricter interpretations of these checks might deter punters, as operators could be obliged to request more comprehensive financial documentation than players are willing to provide.
The Duration of Consultations
Tim Miller, Commission Executive Director for Research and Policy, stated that the consultations are projected to span 12 weeks and conclude in October, consistent with previous consultation timelines. Additionally, the UKGC intends to roll out two further consultations this month on the subjects of personal management licenses and regulatory panel procedures.
Sticking to Consultation Windows
The Commission reaffirms that these project launches are in adherence to the regulator’s commitment to maintain consultation windows wherever feasible. Once these consultations are completed, the UKGC plans to advance in planning for the subsequent consultations, which are presently scheduled for autumn. In the coming weeks, the regulator anticipates initiating pre-consultation engagement with key stakeholders.
Collaborative Work and Role Clarification
Miller noted, “The Gambling Commission’s work is of course also running alongside the work of Government and the voluntary commitments of the gambling industry to implement the Review.” The UKGC continues to back the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in its endeavors, which will also be partaking in the consultation process.
However, the UKGC underlined the significance of clearly delineating roles and responsibilities, using the proposed statutory levy as an example. This levy, a potential tax on the revenues of gambling operators, would finance research, education, and treatment initiatives. The government is responsible for establishing this levy, including deciding on the allocation of funding. Meanwhile, the Commission’s role would involve collecting and distributing the tax as per government directives.
The Future of Gambling Regulation
Miller speculated that the levy could render the Commission’s LCCP RET list obsolete. This list outlines the approved organizations where operators can direct their current mandatory contributions. He added that the Commission also needs to contemplate the impact of this tax on the destination of potential future fines. He concluded by saying, “Full implementation of the review will be a job of several years, especially when you include evaluating the impact of any changes. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to progress things as quickly as possible. We are determined to make progress at speed.”
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