The Gambling Commission (“GC”), in its latest E-Bulletin, has reminded operators that they must ensure that their licence sits within the correct fee category.
Due to the timing of the coming into force of the Gambling Act 2005 and its associated transitional period, July every year sees the issuing of the bulk of annual fee demands. Your annual fee must be paid on or before the anniversary of the issuing of your operating licence.
Gambling operators are required to provide three years’ financial projections when they apply for an operating licence, and the application and annual fee are dictated by gross gambling yield (“GGY”). GGY is, broadly speaking, defined as the total amount received in stakes minus prizes paid out and estimating this, particularly in the case of a start-up, can be an art rather than a science – expectations may be exceeded, or not be met.
This means that your operating licence may be sitting in the wrong fee band and that you may be paying too much, or too little for your annual fee. I often am asked by clients as to what they should do, or would have to do, if this proves to be the case and I know that it does cause some anxiety.
The simple answer is that you must apply for an operating licence variation to either go up, or drop down, a fee category (or more).
There is some good news: the GC’s advice is that the variation process should be completed “as soon as possible” – this suggests to me that it will not penalise operators who have already inadvertently slipped into a higher fee category than originally envisaged, for example. Of course, those who may be aware that they are in the wrong category and have failed to disclose it to the GC, or who are deliberately under-declaring their GGY, are in breach of their duty under the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice to co-operate with the GC in an open and transparent manner and face a real prospect of enforcement action.
The other piece of good news is that the GC fee for altering your GGY band – whether up or down – is a fixed fee of only £25.
The application may be made via the eServices link on the GC website. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, should you require any assistance.