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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.

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Keith Bridges - Licensing
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Rachel Wagstaff - Compliance Manager