UK Gambling Commission Executive Director Tim Miller said the regulator will be seeking the view from industry stakeholders on a number of regulatory issues, such as whether the UKGC can improve the way it calculates financial penalties for regulatory breaches. Miller has also announced a new approach to consultation based on "consultation windows," with the commission aiming to set out two periods a year where any consultations will be published.
The UKGC executive director announced the changes at the CMS Gambling Conference in London on Wednesday. The Commission is looking to modify how it carries out consultations based on feedback received over the last few years: industry players feel the UKGC sometimes takes a “scattergun approach” to consultations; and have also questioned whether consultation responses really make a difference to the outcome, Miller said.
According to him, the current scheme makes it hard for stakeholders to plan the time needed to respond and, where necessary, to implement changes. The UKGC’s next set of consultations will be setting out two periods a year, “meaning a more predictable pattern for operators, lawyers and other stakeholders to plan when they need to be ready to submit evidence.”
“It will also mean that updates to LCCP [Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice] and guidance in turn become more predictable, helping industry keep on top of their obligations,” the UKGC executive director explained. “I can’t promise we won’t ever be forced to issue a consultation outside these periods but that should be the exception rather than the rule and we would clearly explain why we needed to depart from the usual ‘window’.”
Upcoming consultations will be “a bit different” than the ones previously launched. While some will lend themselves to very specific proposals being consulted on at the outset, others may see “a more deliberative approach” with an emerging idea being shared at an early stage for stakeholders to consider before deciding how to proceed with further consultation.
“My hope is that this approach will strike the right balance between making changes at pace when we need to and giving some of the bigger or more complex ideas the time and space needed to be properly developed,” Miller said. “Importantly, my expectation is that our enhanced approach to consulting will enable all stakeholders to feel and see that their voices are heard.”
The UKGC will be exploring potential improvements to how it calculates financial penalties for regulatory breaches “to ensure they better drive compliance” and “to be more transparent” in the way they are calculated. The regulator will also consider whether accountability for meeting regulatory obligations can be increased “through expanding the personal management license regime (PML),” which is in place for people in relevant management positions.
A more collaborative approach to regulation
Elsewhere in his speech, Miller described the current gaming industry as one in which the pace of mergers and acquisitions has increased as of late, with multinational operators “increasingly looking like global tech companies.” Thus, the executive said the Commission believes it will get “better results” by looking at what works in other jurisdictions and by looking at how it can work more closely with other regulators.
Miller, who last year joined the Gaming Regulators European Forum (GREF), said “it is clear” that there is a growing appetite for regulators across Europe, and that there is a need “to work much more closely together,” stating he expects more examples of regulators working across international borders.
“In particular, where an operator that is licensed in one jurisdiction is operating illegally in another regulated jurisdiction there seems to be considerable scope for those two regulators to take more coordinated regulatory action- for illegal activity in one regulated jurisdiction to have regulatory consequences in another,” he noted.
Besides the aforementioned changes to consultation and collaboration, Miller remarked at the CMS Conference on a set of points that have also been brought up by UKGC CEO Andrew Rhodes in some of his latest public appearances, such as the potential risks of “gamblification” and new developments -including the metaverse and NFTs- hitting the market.
Miller also restated the importance of data, and said the UKGC will support industry efforts to pilot a Single Customer View “that has the potential to reduce gambling harms without risking customer data.” He further announced the regulator will use 2023 to analyze the new methodology introduced in a Participation and Prevalence Methodology Pilot carried out earlier this year.
And as Rhodes did last month, Miller said the UKGC didn’t see the delay in the upcoming Gambling Act Review as an excuse to not act now, stating that while it is clearly a key moment for gambling, the regulator will be using the powers it already has. This vow comes as the land-based industry starts to see a rebound following the lifting of restrictions, and as the online segment falls back somewhat in some areas as consumers adjust to life out of lockdown.
This pledge also follows Thursday's resignations of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and UK minister responsible for gambling Chris Philp, amid a widespread wave of ministers' departures this week. The move could potentially delay the upcoming White Paper, although Philp said this week the review is already waiting for “final approval” at the PM's Office.