Next round of UKGC consultations to include financial penalties
“We are rightly putting emphasis on implementing the government’s Gambling Act review recommendations,” said UKGC executive director Tim Miller.
“This goes hand in hand with our vital regulatory ‘business as usual’, to keep gambling safe, fair and crime free,” he added.
While officials have given details on the winter tranche of consultations in the past, this is the first time it has revealed the full list.
The consultations are planned to last 12 weeks, with an expected closing date of Febraury-March 2024.
Financial penalty transparency
One surprise that has not been previously reported is a consultation on financial penalties. Enforcement action has ramped up recent years, partly as a result of focusing penalties on repeat offenders.
UKGC chief Andrew Rhodes has spoken in the past about how a significant percentage of overall global regulatory penalties stem from the UK.
Miller said the regulator’s new proposals will change how the body calculates the penal element of financial penalties imposed following a breach.
“Our proposals will seek to bring greater clarity and transparency to the way we calculate such penalties,” he said.
“This will include measures to ensure that penalties are set at a level where the costs of non-compliance outweigh the costs of compliance,” he added.
UKGC to consult on free bets and bonuses
One item that has been well trailed by Commission officials will be a review of socially responsible incentives. This will include proposals surrounding free bets and bonuses to ensure they are not promoting harmful or excessive gambling.
In the white paper, the government said the consultation would look into measures like a cap on wagering requirements and an appropriate minimum time frame for customers to claim a bonus.The UKGC also intends to investigate customer-led tools. This will look at potential improvements to deposit limits – such as making them opt out rather than opt in – as well as examining ways of making gambling transaction blocks as strong as possible.
Transparent protection of customer funds will also be on the agenda. The regulator said it intends to consult on proposals to increase the transparency to consumers if their money is held by an operator that offers no protection if it becomes insolvent.
The Commission added it will consult on removing the existing requirement for operators to contribute to a set list of research, prevention and treatment providers.
This comes as the government considers imposing a mandatory levy on gross gambling revenue to replace the current system of voluntary contributions.
In October, DCMS announced it had launched the statutory levy consultation, with a proposal for a sliding scale based on potential harms and capping out at 1%.
Making better use of operator data
The regulator will also be looking at increasing the frequency of reporting for licensees from annual to quarterly.
In an October update, UKGC director of research and statistics Ben Haden said the organisation planned to make better use of operator data.
He said this will grant the Commission an improved understanding of the impact of policy changes, in particular resulting from the Gambling Act review.
“When we evaluate, we want to be able to get early indications of impact, where we may need to take different action as a result. It may also mean less ad-hoc requests from operators in relation to each change.”
The Commission is also proposing a consultation to investigate financial key event reporting.
This will involve proposals amending its rules so that licensees provide information on their finances and interests, which the body said will enable them to strengthen its risk-based approach to regulation.
“This is particularly important given the changes seen in the sector over recent times, particularly the increase in complexity of mergers and acquisitions and the globalisation of gambling,” said Miller.
This latest batch of consultations are the latest to be launched by the Commission. The body recently closed the first tranche that had gone out in the summer.
Among other measures, this looked at the government’s proposed affordability checks, often considered the most controversial of the white paper’s provisions.