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Gambling Commission Introduces New Guidance and takes Action Against Operators

In this article Andrew Woods reports that the Gambling Commission have recently taken action against operators in the Gambling sector having recently issued new Guidance for local authorities covering key issues.

Since the Gambling Act 2005 came in to force on 1 September 2007 it is fair to say that the Gambling Commission has received some bad press for its failure to take action and implement the Gambling Act 2005. The Gambling Commission has often argued that one of the main intentions behind the Act is to give local regulators the opportunity to manage the local gambling provision and that the last nine years have probably been a learning curve for both the Commission and local regulators.

Early in 2015 the Commission completed a consultation on revisions to the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice with a lot of the changes relating to the social responsibility requirements and policies particularly connected to gambling management tools, responsible gambling information, customer interaction and self exclusion. Many of the changes came in to force on 8 May 2015 although a key change: “The drafting of a local risk assessment,” does not come in to force until 6 April 2016. This is to allow operators to look at local policies and prepare appropriate risk assessments. The Gambling Commission are being very clear on local risk assessments in that it will not be sufficient for operators simply to write: “There are no risks or issues and therefore a risk assessment is not needed.” The Commission argue that gambling risks are less visible than alcohol related harm (Article in the Journal of Licensing – November 2015) and that the risk assessments need to be related to the: “Probability of an event happening and the likely impact of that event.”

This firm specialises in both alcohol and gambling licensing and since the Licensing Act 2003 (Alcohol Legislation) was introduced we have seen a significant increase in regulation and cross-departmental co-operation in monitoring alcohol related risk. There are increasingly a number of different groups getting involved, writing reports and preparing statistics which are often used against the trade and it seems clear to me that this is now happening in the gambling industry. I would imagine that the next few years will be a testing time for gambling operators and all gambling operators would be advised to look at their procedures and systems and to ensure that those procedures and systems are: “Fit for purpose.”

We have recently seen the Gambling Commission taking action against operators in the gambling sector and identifying weaknesses in anti-money laundering controls and due diligence systems. The Gambling Commission is clear in that issues identified in recent cases will form the basis of future Commission compliance assessments and that this will include the following; Is customer risk adequately assessed? Is ongoing monitoring undertaken appropriately? Is negative evidence inappropriately relied upon? Are customers source of funds and source of wealth adequately investigated? Are enhanced due diligence and customer due diligence procedures sufficiently rigorous.

It is not going to be sufficient for the industry to argue that the policies and procedures being used are those which have been used for a number of years and without complaint. The Gambling Commission are clearly looking for policies and procedures to match their requirements in 2016 and this will place an onus on the industry to review and update the policies and procedures where necessary. I think it is very important for all operators to share knowledge and policies and procedures to ensure that such policies are up to date and: “Fit for purpose in 2016.”

I have recently been involved in a number of cases and would be happy to undertake a review of the policies and procedures at any time.