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The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is now “fully focused” on implementing the regulatory changes as outlined in the government’s white paper review.

In a blog post published 3 May, UKGC executive director for research and policy Tim Miller confirmed the white paper delegated more than 60 areas of work to the regulator alone.

He admitted the gambling overhaul – which is the biggest in Britain since 2005 – would “likely take a number of years to fully complete.”

The UKGC has been tasked with leading consultations this summer on many of the key recommendations, from more prescriptive guidance on customer affordability checks to making online games safer by design by reviewing their riskier features and speed.

Despite the intimidating to-do list, Miller said the Commission was already targeting “rapid progress in a number of key areas.”

Slow and steady

“Already, project teams have been pulled together to start work on the various recommendations that the white paper has made and where actions have been set out for the Commission,” he wrote.

Many of the white paper objectives will be delivered through amendments to the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) which are overseen and implemented by the UKGC.

Miller said the LCCP acts as the “rule book” for UK-licensed gambling operators and that the UKGC was legally obliged to consult on and consider any changes before implementing them.

These consultations are scheduled to begin in the summer.

Other recommendations, such as the reduced stake limit for online slots, will be decided by government consultation with secondary legislation set to be passed down.

“History shows too many examples of well-meaning policy changes having unintended consequences for the public due to the way they were implemented in the real world.”
UKGC executive director Tim Miller

“Importantly, these consultations will be sharply focused on how changes are implemented,” wrote Miller, insisting that questions of public policy had now been settled by the white paper.  

“Where they have, our consultations will not be an opportunity to reopen those debates,” he added.

While the UKGC is eager to make swift progress, Miller said the practical reality of the final changes should only come after listening to a wide variety of experiences and expertise.

“History shows too many examples of well-meaning policy changes having unintended consequences for the public due to the way they were implemented in the real world,” said Miller.

“We will not want to make that mistake,” he added.

The task at hand

Miller’s update comes after public criticism of the regulator in some forums following publication of the white paper seven days ago.

Dan Waugh, partner at strategic advisory firm Regulus Partners, said DCMS had put together a “decent set of proposals” while being interviewed by Nigel Farage on GBNews.

However, he added: “The most worrying thing is that a lot of this now gets kicked to consultation and will eventually be implemented by the regulator.

“It will happen outside of parliamentary scrutiny, and the regulator’s track record on these consultations is not very strong.”

Finally, Miller said an immediate focus on the white paper recommendations would not distract the UKGC from continuing to ensure compliance with existing requirements.

“Where gambling operators fail to meet our standards, we will continue to take action to protect consumers and raise standards,” he added.

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