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Strategy

Raising Standards for consumers - Compliance and Enforcement report 2019 to 2020

The Gambling Commission's report on Compliance and Enforcement action 2019 to 2020

  1. Contents
  2. 1 - Chief Executive's message

1 - Chief Executive's message

Holding an operating licence or a personal licence is a privilege, not a right, and we expect our licensees to protect consumers from harm and treat them fairly.

The aim of our compliance and enforcement work is to raise standards through targeted actions that drive a culture where licensees:

  • Minimise risks to the licensing objectives and reduce gambling related harm
  • Treat consumers fairly and communicate in a clear way that allows them to make properly informed judgments about whether to gamble
  • Work with us in an open and co-operative way
  • Are deterred from acting in a way that does not comply with either the letter or the spirit of the regulatory framework we set.

In the summer of 2017, we made it clear that we would take a tougher approach to enforcement. At the time, some commentators doubted that we were serious about tougher penalties, but as this report shows, where licensees fail to meet the standards we expect, we will take tough action, including the suspension and revocation of licences. We also indicated our focus was shifting towards personal management licence holders. Those in boardrooms and senior positions need to live up to their responsibilities and we will continue to hold people to account for failings they knew, or ought to have known, about.

Regulatory settlements are a way of resolving enforcement cases which we have used to good effect. Frankly, however, there are too many occasions where settlement proposals are made at a late stage of our investigation process or approached as if a licence review is a commercial dispute to be negotiated. That is not acceptable.

Our Statement of Principles for Licensing and Regulation (opens in a new tab) makes it clear that settlements are only suitable where a licensee is open and transparent, makes timely disclosures of the material facts, demonstrates insight into apparent failings and is able to suggest actions that would prevent the need for formal action by the Commission. Only licensees who meet those criteria need make settlement offers; licensees who choose to contest the facts before conceding at a later stage need not make offers of settlement.

In summary, our compliance and enforcement work in the last financial year included:

  • commencing section 116 reviews on 49 PML holders
  • 5 operating licences suspended
  • 11 licences revoked
  • 12 financial penalty packages or regulatory settlements – totalling over £30 million
  • 234 security audits and 33 website reviews
  • 350 compliance assessments of land-based and online operators
  • 630 reports of suspicious betting activity, sports rules breaches and misuse of inside information being managed by our Sports Betting Intelligence Unit
  • over 3,000 intelligence reports being generated.

Everyone has a part to play to make gambling safer and learning the lessons from the failings identified in this report is one way of doing that.

Neil McArthur Chief Executive

Please note: This year’s report, which covers the period from April 2019 to March 2020, has been published later due to COVID-19 impacts.

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