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A Day in the Life

Published:
1 January 2021
Updated:
18 March 2021
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We have asked different people at the Gambling Commission to give us an insight into what a typical day looks like for them.

You’ll be able to read about what each team are doing to make gambling safer, and how they are overcoming challenges they face.

Nick Oliver - Sports Betting Intelligence Unit specialist

Nick joined the Commission in 2008 as an Intelligence Officer. Before that, he spent 22 years in the RAF specialising in covert policing techniques and intelligence.

The Commission’s Sports Betting Intelligence Unit (SBIU) was established in 2009 and Nick played a key role in the world-renowned unit’s establishment. The SBIU works closely with the betting industry and with sports governing bodies to keep crime out of gambling and help protect the integrity of sport and betting. They successfully collect information and develop intelligence about potentially corrupt betting activity involving sport and receive information from a variety of sources.

What does a typical day look like for you and the SBIU team?

The wonderful thing about my role is that there is never a ‘typical’ day. There is always lots of problem solving and detailed work behind the scenes to build a better case to support our partners in their investigations. We work as a team and work very closely on a daily basis with numerous gambling operators, engaging with national and occasionally international sports governing bodies, law enforcement agencies and other regulators.

Match fixing is like finding an old jigsaw puzzle, it’s unlikely that you’ll find all of the pieces intact, but using the pieces you do have, over time you will be able to develop a good picture of what happened. These types of partnerships we have are vital to keeping gambling safe for consumers and to identify those breaking the law. They have been hugely successful for us.

What work are you most proud of in your time at the Commission?

There are many things that I am proud of during my time at the Commission.

I am particularly proud of how the SBIU and the team are internationally recognised as setting the standard to which other countries now model their practices on. It shows we do things the right way and make a global impact.

Our work and experience also contributed to the production of the Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions (The Macolin Convention).

What are the biggest challenges the team faces in the future?

Perhaps the biggest challenge that the team face is understanding how global lockdown has affected our stakeholders from a betting integrity perspective. That is something we continue to focus on alongside the day-to-day work. We also have a challenge on how we host the annual Sports Betting Integrity Forum workshop. The workshop is a great opportunity to meet people we normally only speak to on the phone or via email and helps us to build relationships. This workshop will not be possible this year due to current COVID19 restrictions so we are finding ways to do things differently using technology.

How are you planning to overcome your challenges?

It’s important that we carry on working to our highest standard and maintain our quality and momentum. We have an exceptional reputation and that must continue – while we must make sure that all betting integrity stakeholders are kept up to date with best practice, developments, and trends. We have a lead role.

What are the key next steps you will be taking in the coming months to make gambling safer?

I’ll be trying to keep as fit and alert as possible! Betting Integrity is a very busy and incredibly complex area of Commission business and match fixing impacts on all the licensing objectives, so I must be very focused. I think it’s important that in the coming months we all try and keep our momentum. A good swim always revitalises me!

Keith Bridges - Licensing

Keith joined the Commission in 2020 after a long and successful career in with the Post Office.

Since joining, Keith has managed the relationships between the Commission and over 100 operator accounts, whilst also engaging closely with licence holders - crucial work in terms of making gambling safer and creating relationships with licence holders.

Our Licensing team cover a variety of licence-related issues with both operators and personal management licence holders, mainly individuals and board members who oversee betting operators. The team, who are incredibly busy ensure that all licence conditions are being met and control the application and variation process which has recently moved to a much faster online portal. They also step in, working closely with our Compliance and Enforcement teams, when licensees don’t meet the Commission’s expectations.

What does a typical day look like for you and the Licensing team?

A typical day currently includes assessing licence applications and responding to requests and queries from operators. I am also continuing to develop my understanding of licensing whilst working closely with mentors, buddies, and my resource manager. I also take the time to catch up with my other new starter colleagues, and it’s great to be able to compare our experience in our new roles and what we are learning.

What work are you most proud of in your time at the Commission?

It’s still early days for me at the Commission, but I am most proud of successfully learning and negotiating my first four weeks of training and inductions via a multitude of skype calls! Getting to know a whole new bunch of colleagues has been great.

What are the biggest challenges the team faces in the future?

One challenge is that we need to be actively encouraging operators to make more use of the Commission website and e-services that we have available. This is particularly important in an increasingly digital age, there is a lot of content that operators are able to access instead of contacting the commission for help. It’s something we will continue to push and promote.

How are you planning to overcome them?

These challenges can be overcome by developing our relationships with operators and educating and encouraging them of the benefits of using the website and using our e-services. We are currently in the process of re-building and re-launching our website to make it accessible. It will be a great asset.

What are the key next steps you will be taking in the coming months to make gambling safer?

My relationships with operators mean we are on the same page and are willing to make gambling safer. Working toward the same outcome makes it a lot easier to achieve, and we are accomplishing this day by day. We can identify the higher risk operators and support and educate them with the aim of reducing the number of issues and service requests, thereby improving compliance whilst supporting timely prioritisation of work activities.

Abigail Down - Licensing

Abigail has recently joined the Commission and is a member of our Birmingham-based Licensing team. Before joining the Commission, Abbey spent most of her career in the UK’s retail banking sector.

Our Licensing team covers a wide variety of licence-related issues while working with both operators and personal management licence holders. The together with a wide programme of work, the team’s responsibilities include:

  • reviewing and approving applications for operating licenses and personal licenses
  • overlooking variations and changes to corporate control, and;
  • being the point of contact for licensees

The team’s role is largely as investigators, and they work in multi-disciplinary teams with colleagues in our Compliance and Enforcement departments to determine whether an operator or individual is suitable to be licenced.

For example, they are looking closely at the use of crypto-currencies and a number of cases where the source of funds is not clear. They also lead on licence reviews where there are concerns around changes in ownership.

What does a typical day look like for you and the Licensing team?

A key part of my role is to ensure our Licensing objectives are upheld and being followed by operators 100% of the time.

A typical day involves carefully balancing my time across supporting queries and notifications raised directly by operators. We have good relationships with them, and I have recently taken ownership of around 100 operator accounts - covering different licensed entities.

I have also been assigned two new Operating Licence applications, so my time is spent reviewing these applications against our assessment criteria to understand and decide if the applicant is suitable to be licensed. We must always be strict when looking through the detail of all applications to ensure people and their organisations are fit and proper to hold a licence with us.

What work are you most proud of in your time at the Commission?

I have found new ways of working during my time at the Commission and continue to try and adapt as we continue to work through these unprecedented times. Like many people, the Covid-19 situation has challenged me in a positive way and encouraged me to keep building better connections both internally and externally.

Overall, I think everyone at the Commission should be proud of how, as a high-profile regulator, we have worked through the lockdown period so far to keep consumers safe and hold operators to account. There is no doubt we will see more challenges in the months ahead as we begin to slowly move out of lockdown.

What are the biggest challenges the team faces in the future?

I think as a team and as a regulator we will keep facing challenges as the industry continues to grow and diversify. When it comes to the Licensing side of things, a big challenge is how we as a regulator keep up with the pace of change, both within our communication methods and CRM systems. I think, through our colleagues and ways of working, it’s a challenge we will meet head on.

How are you planning to overcome these challenges?

For me, we will overcome these types of challenges by both embracing any change positively and working together as a collective unit to nurture best practices. We are, and must continue to, move with the times if we are to continue to regulate the industry effectively and efficiently – and keep consumers safe, especially those who gamble online.

What are the key next steps you will be taking in the coming months to make gambling safer?

Making gambling safer and protecting consumers, I will look to ensure that my dealings with operators always revert to the licensing purpose, ensuring licensees are, and remain suitable to be licensed.

Rachel Wagstaff - Compliance Manager

As part of our work to make gambling safer and fairer, our Compliance team ensure that all licence holders comply with the law, our licence conditions and codes of practice. Our compliance activity concentrates on a variety of areas including carrying out assessments, raising standards of work. They also recommend enforcement action where licensees are not upholding the licence conditions and consumers are at risk of harm.

A key member of the Compliance department is Rachel Wagstaff, who has over a decade of experience in compliance having worked for firms regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Rachel has worked as a Compliance Manager at the Commission for over six years and has recently stepped into a new role overseeing a team of compliance colleagues.

This key role ensures that we adopt a risk-based approach to compliance work, and licensees are assessed in a consistent way. Rachel will also ensure any serious failings that are identified are escalated quickly to reduce the risk of consumer harm.

What does a typical day look like for you and the team?

Like most people in the Commission no two days are ever the same, but overall, I am here to reduce risk to the licensing objectives by making sure we carry out robust compliance assessments in a fair and proportionate manner. These assessments focus on key areas of risk, such as:

  • Governance and oversight
  • Anti-money laundering
  • Safer gambling
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Affiliate oversight

We offer support to colleagues in the enforcement team where compliance activity has been escalated to casework. We also review, assess and conduct enquiries from reactive work which is referred to us via other teams within the Commission. Referrals include information gathered by intel, contact centre and licensing colleagues. With all of the work that we carryout it is important that we identify breaches of our requirements and recognise and secure evidence to prove a breach of our conditions or offences under the Gambling Act. Where we identify serious failings, we ensure that these matters are escalated for enforcement action to be considered.

Before my new role, I was mainly involved in leading and assisting on online compliance assessments, as well as reactive work and assisting on enforcement cases. My role now is just as busy! I oversee compliance assessments, review the findings, and assist in the decision making on next steps. As well as this, I deal with any emerging issues we become aware of.

What work are you most proud of during your time at the Commission?

I am most proud of working with a team of people who are dedicated to raising standards across the gambling industry, and who put the protection of consumers and licensing objectives at the heart of what they do.

What are the biggest challenges the team faces in the future?

The biggest challenges we face in Compliance and across the Commission is being able to keep up with an industry that is constantly evolving, growing, and presenting new risks.

We are a small team in comparison to the industry – so we must work at pace to identify and tackle non-compliance,

How do you plan to overcome these challenges?

Our approach to Compliance is evolving all the time as we work to make gambling safer here in Great Britain.

We ensure that our resources are focused on the key areas of risk, the Licensing Objectives, and operators that are the greatest risk and could have the biggest impact on consumers. We have continued with this approach throughout lockdown and will continue to do so.

Moving forward, the focus of our work will be full compliance assessments. We conduct both full assessments, which assess all the key requirements of the LCCP, and targeted assessments that assess a specific aspect of the LCCP requirements. In addition to Thematic reviews to assess current or emerging risks. This activity enables us to take a close look at an operator and assess any risks to the Licensing Objectives.

A big part of our assessment work involves looking closely at customer accounts. By looking at customer spend, operator triggers, checks and interactions, we can identify where policies and procedures are not adequate or not being followed. We can also see the direct impact this has on a customer’s betting activity and identify where they may be at risk of harm.

Where serious concerns are identified, we can intervene and stop further risk of harm. Intervention by us could include encouraging the operator to implement new safeguards immediately, encouraging them to cease certain activities immediately and referring matters for enforcement action, which can include recommending immediate suspension of an operating licence.

What steps will you take in the coming months to make gambling safer?

Safer gambling has, and always will be at the heart of the compliance work we do. I will be overseeing assessments, where we will focus on the safer gambling controls that licenses have in place. I will also oversee a number of assessments, ensuring that we have assessed the key areas of the business and the assessment report and operator findings letter is an accurate and fair reflection of the assessment. I will also ensure that where failings are identified our approach is consistent and robust where it needs to be.

I will also ensure that where safer gambling issues are identified during our reactive compliance work, that these are investigated for breaches of our licence conditions and codes of practice and appropriate action taken.

Emma Boden - Digital Content Specialist

Emma joined the Commission in 2019 and moved into the role of Digital Content Specialist.

Emma works within the website and digital team who are currently producing accessible content for our new website. This will be a key channel for the Commission as we improve our communications to the gambling industry, consumers and other key stakeholders.

Before joining the Commission, Emma worked as a Digital Content Manager for an e-commerce company, and as a Digital Manager for European Union-backed education, training, youth, and sports projects. Her extensive knowledge of content means that she can work collaboratively across the Commission, ensuring that each team’s website requirements are met.

What does a typical day look like for you and the digital team?

I am lucky to be part of the brilliant website project team, which is made up of colleagues from digital and communications. Our day starts with a virtual stand-up where we run through what we’ve been working on and determine our next priorities.

Our team works closely with stakeholders across the Commission, and we often have collaborative meetings or workshops. The rest of the day is taken up by working on content which will later be tested with our users.

What work are you most proud of in your time at the Commission?

I’m most proud of the Gambling Commission’s BETA website going live this summer. I’ve been part of a great team and everyone has worked really hard to produce the new site from scratch in just nine months. It’s been a lot of work, but it has paid off as we’re already seeing the benefits from our users and some fantastic comments on how user friendly it is.

What are the biggest challenges the team faces in the future?

Lockdown has added a layer of challenge because we’ve been unable to get together in person as a team or with other Commission colleagues.

This has been especially sad as we’ve had experts join the team during lockdown and we’re yet to meet them in person. However, like many other businesses we have adapted well to video conferencing, and this has been a huge benefit to us to keep such an important project on track.

How are you planning to overcome these challenges?

We have made the most of technology, especially Microsoft Teams and other collaborative tools. We use a tool called Miro which has supported our online critiques so we can still feedback as a team. We also have a regular, weekly non-meeting day on a Wednesday. This has been helpful to work on specific tasks or pieces of content around other meetings.

What are the key next steps you will be taking in the coming months to make gambling safer?

It’s about working closely with all our expert colleagues across the Commission. It’s important we can present all the amazing work that is done across the organisation. We’re working hard to make sure our content is accessible so that all our users, whether they be consumers, academics, licensees or anyone else, can easily see the incredible impact the Gambling Commission is having on making gambling safer.

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