The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has been particularly active in the last few years. It has a very serious and demanding job and we live in an age when the gambling and betting industry, especially its online segment, is changing faster than ever. The Commission has to keep track of all the changes and make sure that all participants operate and act in accordance with the laws and regulations.
The fact that UK operators have spent £500 million on advertising in less than five years is a clear indication of how large the industry is. There is a lot at stake and the profits are huge, but the Commission has to ensure that all players and punters are protected. Towards the end of last year it was announced that higher taxes might be introduced, which was a cause of worry for the operators.
The Focus Will Be on Tackling Money Laundering and Problem Gambling
Now, the UK Gambling Commission plans on applying heavier fines for operators who won’t comply with the new standards that should be introduced towards the end of the month. Proposed punishments for non-compliant operators will also include revoking of licences.
The CEO of the Commission, Sarah Harrison said that companies will have to enforce stricter policies, in order to be certain that the money wagered through their payment systems are not used for money laundering and terrorist financing. Harrison, who addressed a meeting that multiple important industry figures attended, also said that the Commission discovered a serious lack of curiosity, adding that many companies only cared about their financial interest and not the origin of the money.
The UKGC in past would usually reach a settlement with the companies acted contrary to the regulations, but now, Harrison said, the Commission would be keener on reviewing their licence to work in the country. The Parliament now allows the Commission to use a range of tools and to employ higher penalties, especially in the cases where a company has failed to comply with the Commission’s standards on more than one occasion.
This approach was expected and as Harrison assumed the highest position in the Commission, everybody knew that things were about to change.
The Association of Bookmakers Welcomes the New Policy
Companies can no longer hope to settlement negotiations that last for months. In 2016, the Commission reached settlement deals with several operators who paid sums in the amount of hundreds of thousands for their misconducts. One operator agreed to pay £280,000, whereas another paid £800,000 after not being able to prove that it enforced necessary money laundering control.
Harrison noted that the settlement processes take too long and in the future the Commission will apply a time-limit on the process. Moreover, company who agree to pay right away, will need to pay less than companies who take longer.
The Association of British Bookmakers said that they are in favour of raise of standards, adding that it is only right for the Commission to take action when operators fail to comply with legal and ethical standards.
Carolyn Harris, a Labour MP raised her concern over the controversial fixed-odds betting terminals, urging the Commission to take action and limit the amount which can be wagered on FOBT to a maximum of £2.