Gambling Commission chair vows to toughen stance on UK operators with cumulative fines for repeat offenders

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Marcus Boyle has come out swinging in his first public statement as chairman of the Gambling Commission, promising stricter enforcement action against failing licensees.

Boyle was hired last September to replace former chair Bill Moyes, whose tenure was tarnished by the collapse of Football Index. That sorry episode also led to the departure of former CEO Neil McArthur, who was replaced on an interim basis by Andrew Rhodes.

Rhodes has now been handed the position on a permanent basis and the Commission is seeking to step up its enforcement powers to coincide with findings from the UK government’s review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

The UK is already one of Europe’s strictest markets from a regulatory perspective, but Boyle has pledged to clamp down heavily on operators that breach licence conditions on more than one occasion.

Gambling Commission chair Marcus Boyle: “Recent investigations reveal cases with jaw-dropping examples of substantial amounts being taken from individuals who cannot afford to wager such sums.”

Authoring an op-ed for The Times over the weekend, Boyle wrote: “A key area is increasing the impact of sanctions imposed on persistently failing operators. Recent investigations reveal cases with jaw-dropping examples of substantial amounts being taken from individuals who cannot afford to wager such sums.

“Our enforcement has led to operators paying out more than £130m in the past five years, but this clearly is not a sufficient deterrent. Consequently, operators can expect to see cumulative sanction packages, with not only increased financial penalties, but also a suite of sanctions aimed at changing behaviour.”

These will include fines based on a percentage of customer takings, as well as short and long-term suspensions and the addition of significant conditions to UK operating licences.

“We will expect full board oversight and personal accountability through increased personal management gambling licences at strategic and operational levels,” continued Boyle.

“And we will not tolerate an attitude of lowest possible compliance being sufficient. We expect our licence holders to genuinely commit and learn from failings.

“Licences will be withdrawn where standards are not met, meaning that individuals could not hold senior positions in the industry.

“Licence holders should aim for the highest standards,” he added.

The UK government’s review should be published imminently and is expected to result in wide-ranging reform for the regulated sector, including a potential ban on Premier League shirt sponsorships and a stake limit of £2 per spin for online slots.

About the author

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Jake Evans

Jake Evans is an NCTJ-accredited journalist and editor who has covered the online gaming and sports betting industry since 2017. He is the managing editor of iGaming NEXT and has previously worked in both content and data for EGR, Stats Perform and Football Radar.

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