Industry figures have criticised a move by the UK’s Gambling Commission to remove individual account managers amid a licensing system overhaul.
The regulator announced yesterday (27 June) that it was changing its licensing framework to keep up with growing demand for licences across the UK.
Under the proposed new system, licensees in Great Britain will no longer have a dedicated account manager, meaning they will cease to have an individual point of contact with the Gambling Commission.
Instead, the regulator’s licensing division will be subdivided into four new sub-groups, each of which will be responsible for different areas of work.
The Operating Licence New Group will be responsible for processing applications for new operator licences, while the Change of Corporate Control Group will be responsible for processing applications relating to changes of ownership and control for existing operators.
The Operating Licence Vary Group will be responsible for processing applications relating to changes to existing operator licences, and the Personal Licence Group will deal with all applications relating to personal licences.
Northridge Law LLP partner Melanie Ellis: “While we had already moved a long way from licensees being able to pick up the phone to someone who knew and understood their business, this change takes away any meaningful opportunity for dialogue between the regulator and those it regulates.”
The Gambling Commission said it was changing its working practices to make the best use of its resources. The regulator hopes its new structure for licensing will allow it to process applications more quickly, it said, while enabling it to resolve queries more efficiently and effectively.
The way in which licence applicants submit applications remains unchanged, however.
The change has attracted criticism from industry figures. Melanie Ellis, a partner at Northridge Law LLP and specialist in the betting and gaming sector, said on LinkedIn: “It is a real shame the Gambling Commission will no longer have an account manager for each licensee.
“While we had already moved a long way from licensees being able to pick up the phone to someone who knew and understood their business, this change takes away any meaningful opportunity for dialogue between the regulator and those it regulates.
“In the interests of efficiency, it seems the GC has lost sight of what will actually make for better regulation.”
Gambling Commission: “The nature of the evolving industry means we must adapt and this approach provides greater flexibility and in turn service.”
Betfred commercial manager Laura Hazelwood described the move as a “terrible decision” in a LinkedIn comment.
She added: “The industry will now lose the benefit of creating working relationships with the GC. Sending queries to centralised inboxes with long SLA’s for a response is going to cause more harm than good.”
The Gambling Commission has refuted claims the changes will lead to a deterioration in service provision.
Speaking to iGaming NEXT, a spokesperson for the regulator said: “Once a caseworker is assigned to a case then an applicant or licensee has a named contact. If they are already licensed then this will relate to Operator Licence Varies and Change of Corporate Control, while other minor changes can be serviced in eservices.
“We are looking at the makeup of our service requests to ensure we can respond effectively and continue to strive to provide an improved service. The nature of the evolving industry means we must adapt and this approach provides greater flexibility and in turn service.
“If anyone has a specific example that remains unresolved, please make contact and we will do our utmost to resolve it.”