The UK risk of terrorist financing has increased from low to medium, according to the latest Gambling Commission money laundering risk assessment.  

The government document details the current money laundering/terrorist financing threat landscape and is designed to provide the regulated gambling industry with a resource when developing their own frameworks.

UK-licensed operators are required to ensure their policies, procedures and controls are effectively implemented, as well as updated, so that they remain effective.

The UK’s national ML/TF risk assessment, last updated by the Home Office and the Treasury in 2020, lists the overall money laundering threat level as low in the gambling sector.

Despite this, certain types of gaming still possess a high risk when compared to others.

For example, the Commission says remote casino, betting and bingo has a high ML/TF risk level, while the National Lottery is categorised as low risk.    

Significant changes in 2023 assessment

The most significant change in the risk assessment compared to the previous version is that the Commission has increased the overall terrorist financing risk to medium from low.

This came after the regulator re-evaluated its terrorist financing classification in collaboration with UK counter-terrorism specialists.

Outside of this change, the risk levels for all types of gaming activity have remained the same. However, within each activity, the Commission still made several changes.

For iGaming, the regulator has lowered the risk resulting from high value customers, or VIP schemes. This was highlighted as an area in the 2020 report and raised questions about how thoroughly KYC checks were being conducted.

The UKGC also has evaluated additional risks that did not get a full rating in the previous report. This includes organised crime gangs acting as customers, which has been evaluated as high risk.

Other newly considered risks include the use of vulnerable people’s gambling accounts to disrupt a financial trail, so-called mule accounts, and failures to implement a closed loop system.

Meanwhile, the remote betting threat level has increased for smurfing – the practice of laundering bets in small increments – as well as peer-to-peer betting, both of which now stand at high.

Commission launches new online tipline

The regulator has launched a new online confidential service to report criminal and suspicious activity.

It encouraged people with knowledge on match-fixing, underage gambling, money laundering, unlicensed gambling and any other criminal activity to come forward with their concerns.

Users can upload documents to support their reports, as well as send information by email or by post.

The Gambling Commission has launched the second set of consultations for proposals included in the government’s package of gambling reforms.

The consultations comprise five main topics consisting of measures first proposed in the government’s gambling white paper.

These include proposals relating to making incentives more socially responsible, improving customer-led tools such as deposit limits and increased transparency for protecting consumer funds.

Additionally, the Commission will consult on removing obsolete research, education and treatment (RET) contribution requirements, as well as requiring quarterly, as opposed to annual, regulatory returns from operators.

The process is set to run for 12 weeks, implying a deadline of 21 February 2024.

The regulator will later launch two more consultations covering “business as usual” topics.

This will comprise proposals around increasing clarity and transparency around the way financial penalties are calculated, as well as measures relating to financial key event reporting by licensees.

UKGC executive director for research and policy Tim Miller said: “The white paper set out that a top government priority is ensuring that gambling happens safely. We share this commitment and today’s consultations propose how we can deliver on it.

“We need as many people as possible to have their say on any potential changes to the rules operators must follow.

“These views will ultimately help shape gambling regulation across the country.”

UKGC tables potential ban on wagering requirements

The headline proposals included in the latest tranche of consultations are the Commission’s submissions to change how incentives such as free bets and bonuses work.

Specifically, the regulator is contemplating bans on wagering requirements and the mixing of product types within a single bonus offer.

The Commission said it has prioritised these two mechanics due to research showing they have the most potential for harm.

A wagering requirement is a multiplier applied to bonus offers that represents the number of times a player must play through the bonus before they can withdraw any winnings.

“These mechanics… add layers of complexity to incentives leading to customers getting caught out by terms and conditions attached to the incentive,” reads the consultation.

“Therefore, this consultation contains proposals which seek to address the potential harms caused by specific mechanics and to aid transparency and better understanding of the offer.”

To address the issues surrounding wagering requirements, the UKGC will consult on two potential proposals.

The first is a measure that would “ban wagering requirements applied to all bonus funds in promotional offers”.

Alternatively, the regulator is consulting on a proposal which would set a cap on all wagering requirements to bonuses offered through promotions.

This would involve one of three potential thresholds: Wagering requirements set up to a maximum of 1 time, 5 times or 10 times.

Regarding the second issue, the Commission is consulting on introducing a ban on the mixing of product types, such as betting, bingo, casino and lotteries, within a promotional offer for all new and existing customers.

The Commission is also consulting on a third minor proposal in this area to rework the wording on its LCCP Social Responsibility Code 5.1 to specifically say that incentives should be constructed in a way that does not lead to excessive gambling.

Should deposit limits be opt out?

The UKGC is also consulting on measures surrounding customer tools such as deposit limits.

The two main proposals in this area will be whether deposit limits should be something consumers opt out of, as opposed to the current system of opting in.

This will be done through proposed changes to the wording of the Remote Gambling and Software Technical Standards (RTS).

New proposed wording includes suggestions operators include spend and loss limits, in addition to the mandatory deposit limits.

Another proposal is that customers should be able to receive personalised feedback on their gambling activity.

The Commission is also seeking stakeholder views on two other issues but is not yet offering any particular proposals.

These are the feasibility of implementing cross-operator deposit limits, that is whether an individual could have a single set limit across multiple accounts with different operators.

The other issue is whether friction is being applied to dissuade customers from putting in place protections.

Increasing transparency in protecting consumer funds

The third topic area relates to protecting consumer funds from gambling operators if they become insolvent.

While some operators already have protective measures, others do not.

As such, the UKGC is consulting on a proposal which would see a reminder sent to customers every six months if operator funds do not hit a specific threshold.

“In line with our statutory licensing objective of ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way, we want to improve transparency for customers of these gambling licensees by proposing a new requirement,” said the consultation.

“This is that gambling licensees should remind customers that their funds are not protected.”

The Commission is also consulting on a proposal for operators to submit regulatory data on a quarterly basis, regardless of the licence type.

This will guide the Commission’s ability to budget, give a more accurate picture of the gambling sector and offer improve data quality for official statistics, it said.

Removing RET contributions from LCCP conditions

The final topic the regulator is consulting on is a proposal to remove paragraph two of SR Code Provision 3.1.1 – Combating problem gambling, which mandates operators to make a voluntary contribution to RET efforts.

This due to it becoming obsolete following the introduction of the statutory levy, the government’s proposed measure to introduce a mandatory tiered levy on gambling operators to fund RET projects.

“We want to avoid the potential for two RET funding systems to be in place once the government brings the statutory levy into force, as this could create confusion in the system and have a negative impact on the distribution of funds and any associated reporting requirements,” said the regulator.

These are the second round of consultations introduced by the UKGC on the measures included in the white paper.

The first round opened in July and offered proposals on a range of measures including around affordability checks, often considered the most controversial of all the government’s proposals.

Other topics comprised online games design, enhancing consumer choice around direct marketing and improving age-verification in land-based premises.

After receiving more than 3,000 consultation responses, many in response to the proposals on affordability checks, the consultation closed in October.

The Gambling Commission has published the final experimental stage of the Gambling Survey for Great Britain, the new harms survey.

The “push-to-web” methodology is a change from historic efforts, which have traditionally relied on in-person interviews or telephone calls.

The survey is based on data from 4,000 responses gathered between May and April this year.

The Commission said it published the statistics so that users can become familiar with and understand the impact of the new methods and approaches before they become official statistics.

UKGC head of statistics Helen Bryce said: “This project is just one of the ways the Commission is looking to improve our understanding and build a stronger evidence base for our regulation, as set out in our evidence gaps and priorities for 2023 to 2026.

“We believe that better evidence, driven by better data will lead to better regulation, which in turn will lead to better outcomes.”

Findings of new harms survey

The new harms survey reported a headline problem gambling rate, defined as a score of eight or above on the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI), of 2.5%.

This is significantly higher than the 0.2% figure, based on the quarterly telephone prevalence survey, that is often highlighted by the industry’s trade bodies. A further 3.5% of respondents scored between 3 and 7 on the survey.

The study also revealed that 50% of respondents said they gambled on any activity in the past 4 weeks, while 61% said they did in the past 12 months.

The discrepancy between the new and previous headline problem gambling rate has led to criticism from some quarters that the Commission needs to rethink its approach.

“The purpose of this figure is not only (as the GC implies) to compare trends over time, but is being used as we speak to inform gambling policy,” said Northridge Law LLP gambling regulatory lawyer Melanie Ellison LinkedIn.

“I can’t say which figure is right and which is wrong, but either the recent discourse has been based on a huge underestimate of the scale of the problem, or the GC’s new methodology is fundamentally flawed.

“Rather than calling this the ‘final step in the experimental stage of the project’, shouldn’t the GC be going back to the drawing board and seeking to find out whether it can have confidence in the new survey approach, before taking it forward?”

Strengths and weaknesses of new approach

The Gambling Commission said the new online methodology was “robust and future proof”, highlighting that several public bodies have switched to this method in recent years.

It also argued it is more cost effective than traditional methods, and as such, allows more people to be interviewed.

The regulator said this would enable it to do more detailed analyses than was previously possible.

Subsequently, the survey includes “more granular” information on each gambling activity, which is intended to gather information about both in-person and online gambling.

The Commission said the self-administered data collection methods should work to mitigate individuals lying about their gambling habits.

However, the new remote methodology involves a lower response rate. It also means the results cannot be compared to data from previous surveys, making it difficult to analyse trends in the short term.

Another issue is that studies conducted primarily online consistently produce a higher problem gambling rate than face-to-face methods.

“We are confident that with the work put in to develop and test our new methodology, allied with the scale of around 20,000 respondents a year that the Gambling Survey for Great Britain will have, we are doing everything we can to make sure our new methodology will be as relevant and robust as they can be,” said Bryce.

The UK government has responded to a petition calling for it to abandon plans to implement so-called ‘affordability checks’ for gambling customers.

The petition, launched on 1 November, has more than 86,000 signatures at the time of writing. 

The government is obliged to respond to any petition which exceeds 10,000 signatures. At 100,000 signatures, the petition must be legally considered for a debate in parliament.

DCMS response

In its written response to the petition, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) reiterated several previously argued points around the frictionless nature of the proposed checks.

“We are committed to a proportionate, frictionless system of financial risk checks, to protect those at risk of harm without overregulating,” it said.

Both the government and the Gambling Commission (UKGC) recognise concerns over the checks, it added. 

The government and UKGC agree that the new system “should not unduly disrupt the millions of people who gamble without suffering harm, and should not cause unnecessary damage to sectors which rely on betting, in particular horseracing,” it said.

DCMS also suggested that the proposals will represent a “significant improvement” for businesses and customers alike when compared to the current situation.

At present, it argued, operators are applying “inconsistent” affordability checks on customers, often without clearly explaining why, and requiring customers to provide data to them manually.

The government has “challenged operators to be more transparent with customers in the interim,” it said, but the industry will benefit from the introduction of clearly defined rules by which all operators must abide.

Further, the proposed system will allow financial data to be “shared seamlessly with operators instead of burdening customers with information requests,” it added.

It also insisted that the government and UKGC will not mandate the proposed checks “until we are sure that they will be frictionless” for the vast majority of customers checked.

Horseracing support

In its response, DCMS also pointed to the “important link between betting and horseracing” raised by the petition.

The government recognises the “enormous value of horseracing,” it said, both as a spectator sport and through its contribution to the UK economy.

It pointed to previously published estimates from the Gambling Act review white paper, which suggested financial risk checks would reduce online horseracing betting yield by between 6% and 11%.

That, in turn, would reduce the income of the racing industry by between £8.4m and £14.9m annually, it said, or around 0.5%-1% of its total income.

The drop in income would come about via a reduction in levy, media rights and sponsorship returns, it said, but the government is “working with racing and refining that estimate”.

It has also “commenced a review of the Horserace Betting Levy to ensure a suitable return to the sport for the future,” it added.

Both the government and UKGC continue to work with the industry to ensure checks can be implemented in an effective but proportionate way, the response said.

They are also “exploring the role of pilots or phased implementation to help ensure this.”

The UKGC is expected to set out more detailed plans related to the checks in due course.

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has opted to reveal the full list of the next round of consultations.

The seven selected topics range from the UKGC’s work in actioning the provisions of the government’s Gambling Act white paper, as well as regulation not included in the document.

“We are rightly putting emphasis on implementing the government’s Gambling Act review recommendations,” said UKGC executive director Tim Miller.

“This goes hand in hand with our vital regulatory ‘business as usual’, to keep gambling safe, fair and crime free,” he added.

While officials have given details on the winter tranche of consultations in the past, this is the first time it has revealed the full list.

The consultations are planned to last 12 weeks, with an expected closing date of Febraury-March 2024.

Financial penalty transparency

One surprise that has not been previously reported is a consultation on financial penalties. Enforcement action has ramped up recent years, partly as a result of focusing penalties on repeat offenders.

UKGC chief Andrew Rhodes has spoken in the past about how a significant percentage of overall global regulatory penalties stem from the UK.

Miller said the regulator’s new proposals will change how the body calculates the penal element of financial penalties imposed following a breach.

“Our proposals will seek to bring greater clarity and transparency to the way we calculate such penalties,” he said.

“This will include measures to ensure that penalties are set at a level where the costs of non-compliance outweigh the costs of compliance,” he added.

UKGC to consult on free bets and bonuses

One item that has been well trailed by Commission officials will be a review of socially responsible incentives. This will include proposals surrounding free bets and bonuses to ensure they are not promoting harmful or excessive gambling.

In the white paper, the government said the consultation would look into measures like a cap on wagering requirements and an appropriate minimum time frame for customers to claim a bonus.  

The UKGC also intends to investigate customer-led tools. This will look at potential improvements to deposit limits – such as making them opt out rather than opt in – as well as examining ways of making gambling transaction blocks as strong as possible.

Transparent protection of customer funds will also be on the agenda. The regulator said it intends to consult on proposals to increase the transparency to consumers if their money is held by an operator that offers no protection if it becomes insolvent.

The Commission added it will consult on removing the existing requirement for operators to contribute to a set list of research, prevention and treatment providers.

This comes as the government considers imposing a mandatory levy on gross gambling revenue to replace the current system of voluntary contributions.

In October, DCMS announced it had launched the statutory levy consultation, with a proposal for a sliding scale based on potential harms and capping out at 1%.

Making better use of operator data

The regulator will also be looking at increasing the frequency of reporting for licensees from annual to quarterly.

In an October update, UKGC director of research and statistics Ben Haden said the organisation planned to make better use of operator data.

He said this will grant the Commission an improved understanding of the impact of policy changes, in particular resulting from the Gambling Act review.

“When we evaluate, we want to be able to get early indications of impact, where we may need to take different action as a result. It may also mean less ad-hoc requests from operators in relation to each change.”

The Commission is also proposing a consultation to investigate financial key event reporting.

This will involve proposals amending its rules so that licensees provide information on their finances and interests, which the body said will enable them to strengthen its risk-based approach to regulation.

“This is particularly important given the changes seen in the sector over recent times, particularly the increase in complexity of mergers and acquisitions and the globalisation of gambling,” said Miller.

This latest batch of consultations are the latest to be launched by the Commission. The body recently closed the first tranche that had gone out in the summer.

Among other measures, this looked at the government’s proposed affordability checks, often considered the most controversial of the white paper’s provisions.

The Gambling Commission (UKGC) has appointed Nick Rust as the chair of its newly established Industry Forum.

The forum was announced in September, and will be made up of members from Britain’s gambling industry in order to provide further insight to the regulator on the views of operators.

It is expected to comprise 10 members, representing the wide range of operators in British gambling, and will share industry views with the UKGC on topics including account management, industry consultations and the regulator’s data programme.

The forum will sit alongside a range of stakeholder engagement initiatives undertaken by the UKGC, including its Lived Experience Advisory Panel, Advisory Board for Safer Gambling and Digital Advisory Panel.

Rust will assume his role as chair of the Industry Forum from November, the UKGC said, and will serve for a period of two years.

Nick Rust background

In the past, Rust has held several prominent positions within the British gambling industry, including six years as the CEO of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA).

He currently serves as the chair of the Starting Price Regulatory Commission and as a non-executive director of Redcar Racecourse.

Rust is also a founding partner of GVS EQ, a specialist consultancy in the horseracing sector, and a trustee of the Injured Jockeys Fund.

His former roles include managing director of retail for Ladbrokes, managing director for remote gambling and Coral retail at Gala Coral Group, and managing director of Sky Bet.

“I am delighted that Nick has been appointed as the inaugural Chair of the Commission’s Industry Forum,” said Gambling Commission chair Marcus Boyle. 

“Nick’s extensive knowledge of the gambling sector makes him a valuable asset, and I am confident he will work with us to create a productive and insightful Industry Forum.”

Earlier this month, DCMS secretary Lucy Frazer MP appointed seven new commissioners to the Gambling Commission Board of Commissioners, the regulator’s oversight body.

Data from the Gambling Commission (UKGC) has suggested that online slots gross gambling yield (GGY) in the UK increased some 7.5% in the three months ended 30 September 2023 (Q2 2023/24).

Today (31 October), the regulator released new statistics using data from the market’s largest gambling operators, representing around 80% of the British online gambling sector.

As the data does not cover the entire market, the UKGC pointed out that changes between last year and this year may be caused by a variety of different factors.

Online slots data

With that said, one standout vertical in the statistics was online casino, and in particular online slots.

The figures showed a 7.5% increase in slots GGY between Q2 2022/23 and Q2 2023/24, up from £547.7m to £588.8m.

That growth came about following an 11.2% increase in the average monthly number of active players participating in slot games, which reached over 3.8 million in Q2 2023/24.

Also up by 11.2% year-on-year was the total number of bets placed on online slots, which came to more than 20.5 billion.

Those figures were all up despite a reduction in the average session length of online slot players, from 19 minutes in the previous year to 17 minutes.

The number of sessions lasting over one hour and the total number of sessions were both up year-on-year for each of the three months listed, however.

Other verticals

According to the new UKGC data, other verticals did not fare so well during the quarter.

While the average number of monthly active players of online casino games (excluding slots) increased by 16.6% to more than 2.5 million, quarterly GGY for the vertical fell 6% to £140.1m.

That reduction came about as despite the increase in the number of unique players, the total number of bets placed on non-slot casino games fell by 4% to 949.5 million.

Betting data was similarly lacklustre, as GGY for the vertical fell by 5.3% to £428.3m.

That reduction followed a 0.9% drop in the total number of bets placed during the quarter, to 862.9 million, and a 0.2% drop in the average number of monthly active players, to just over 5 million.

In virtual betting, GGY fell 15.8% to £10.2m, as the average number of monthly active players dropped 10.4% to 189,000, and the number of total bets placed during the quarter fell 15.1% to 27.9 million.

In poker, GGY fell by 11.6% to £15.9m, as the average number of monthly actives slipped 0.4% to 228,000, and the total number of bets placed during the quarter fell 4.9% to 201.9 million.

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has ramped up enforcement efforts to tackle the black market, resulting in a 46% reduction in traffic to the market’s largest illegal sites.

The regulator received additional funding to tackle illegal online gambling in 2021/22, which has increased resources for combatting the threat posed by offshore operators.

The results were achieved through collaboration with payment providers, financial institutions, internet service providers (ISPs) and software licensees, according to UKGC CEO Andrew Rhodes, which has resulted in a high channelisation rate of 97.6%.

Speaking at the International Association of Gambling Regulators (IAGR) yesterday (16 October), Rhodes revealed some key stats regarding the regulator’s offshore clampdown.

A numbers game

Enforcement actions against illegal gambling rose by more than 500% between 2021/22 and 2022/23, while the number of “successful positive disruption outcomes” more than doubled.

Crucially, the regulator is now able to identify unlicensed sites with high footfall and has restricted their access to UK consumers, either through hosting restrictions or geo-blocking.

Between May and July, access to four of the top 10 illegal domains in the UK was restricted via geo-blocking, while web traffic to the market’s largest illegal sites fell by 46%.

A further 17 sites were blocked from Google search results, while the UKGC has worked with Mastercard on removing its payment facilities from illegal gambling sites.

Social media was also used as a method of intervention as the regulator sought to close hundreds of illegal lotteries and stop influencers from promoting unlicensed gambling.

A team effort

As well as improved collaboration with external stakeholders, the UKGC has opened a dialogue with licensees, which has had a “rapid effect” on disrupting the black market.

For example, software licensees have been told to prevent access to popular products when their games appear to be available on unlicensed sites.

The Commission has also urged licensed operators to reassess their business relationships with affiliate partners that also advertise services provided by illegal sites.

Unforeseen impact

Industry stakeholders have repeatedly raised concerns that stricter regulation of UK’s licensed market, such as the introduction of affordability or financial risk checks for consumers, will only serve to benefit the black market.

At iGaming NEXT Valletta 23, Videoslots CEO Alexander Stevendahl said the UK’s black market was “exploding”, suggesting gamblers had started to seek out unregulated crypto sites.

Stevendahl said players were using VPNs and creating fake profiles with other people’s documents to circumvent KYC rules and play outside of the regulated market.

“I really think it is a big challenge and it will be hard to stop,” he said at the time.

More work to be done

Despite the progress being made, Rhodes said the UKGC would not rest on its laurels while addressing other global regulators at the IAGR.

He said the so-called “phoenixing” of unlicensed sites, whereby a related website is created after the original has been taken down, continues to be a major problem in Great Britain.

“We intend to deepen our collaboration with partners in industry, tech and finance to further strengthen what we can do to disrupt this activity,” said Rhodes.

“In March, we’ll be holding a conference that will look at how we can work with partners to further decay, frustrate and drive out illegal online gambling,” he added.

*The Gambling Commission considers “illegal” gambling to be any individual or company offering gambling services in Great Britain without a UKGC licence*

RG start-up Better Change has expressed concern that UK regulation might be preventing iGaming talent from working on responsible gambling solutions.

The company informed iGaming NEXT that key staff members were forced to relinquish their Personal Management Licences (PMLs) in order to work with Better Change.

What is a PML?

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) mandates that individuals in specific management roles within licensed gambling operators must possess PMLs. 

This framework establishes personal accountability for regulatory compliance, both in the individual’s conduct within their role and in the management responsibility they hold for the operator’s behaviour.

Better Change noted its surprise that Erica Young (pictured), herself a former UKGC manager, had to surrender her PML to serve as regulatory affairs director at Better Change. 

This requirement arose because Better Change is on the UKGC’s RET list.

The list includes organisations that are approved to receive voluntary contributions from the licensed gambling industry for research, education and treatment purposes relating to gambling harm.

Not an easy decision

Young said surrendering her PML was “not an easy decision to make”. The certification was an absolute requirement for the interim compliance director position she held for some months.

She added: “As a freelance consultant in the fields of regulatory compliance and safer gambling, I thought that having a PML was an asset.

“Unfortunately, NOT holding a PML was an absolute requirement for involvement with a safer gambling start-up seeking inclusion on the UKGC’s RET list,” she added.

Young spent more than 12 years working for the UKGC, during which time she developed a particular interest in casinos and in making gambling safer for individuals susceptible to harm. 

In 2019, she left her role at the regulator and moved into various compliance-related positions, including roles as compliance director and consultant.

“More recently, I found myself at a crossroads in my career, conflicted by wanting to focus my energies on preventing gambling harm by working with Better Change, but knowing that the UKGC has me pigeonholed as an industry person and therefore persona non grata. 

“So I have turned my back on the more lucrative commercial work to focus on the work I believe to be right and important.

“And I don’t think anyone who knows me will be surprised by that decision,” she added.

UKGC response

In response to an iGaming NEXT request for comment, a UKGC spokesperson said the regulator requires organisations on the RET list to confirm that key positions are not being held by industry representatives or PML holders.

This rule is designed to eliminate conflicts of interest, it confirmed.

However, PML holders can still collaborate with organisations on the RET list as long as they are not serving members of the board or in other decision-making roles.

Better Change said that while no one at the organisation legally requires a PML, individuals with PMLs often demonstrate a firm understanding of the industry, which the company considers an asset.

Better Change founder Victoria Reed said: “It is regrettable that Erica had to take such drastic action to collaborate with us.

“I myself had to sacrifice my personal licence in 2021 to establish Better Change. However, I firmly believe that industry knowledge and experience are crucial in the fight against gambling harm.”

Reed recently spoke about the challenges of establishing Better Change in our Breakfast with NEXT interview series.

As part of its response to iGaming NEXT, the UKGC reiterated that applications for the RET list are currently on hold.

“The Gambling Act Review has committed to introducing a statutory levy, details of which are subject to consultation.

“Once a levy is introduced, it is likely that the Commission’s RET list would no longer be relevant,” the spokesperson added.

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has received some 1,800 responses to its ongoing consultations on the nation’s gambling policies.

In a recent speech, UKGC’s policy director Tim Miller encouraged active participation in the consultations and addressed various aspects of the ongoing debate.

The consultations, open until 18 October, are designed to fine-tune the implementation details of policies that the government has already committed to. 

Miller emphasised the importance of public input and the need to dispel misconceptions surrounding financial risk checks while shedding light on upcoming proposals.

One of the central topics discussed by Miller was financial risk checks, which have generated significant public attention and debate. 

He acknowledged that misunderstandings had arisen due to the complexity of the issues and the need for better communication. 

Miller also expressed concern about deliberate misinformation further complicating the matter.

This follows recent criticism by UKGC CEO Andrew Rhodes, who accused the Racing Post of providing “imbalanced” reporting on financial vulnerability and risk checks.

Miller, however, could not provide a specific timeline for reviewing the feedback it has received and formulating a response, noting: “We will continue to work at pace, but as we’ve said before since the White Paper was published, we are focused on getting it right. More haste, less speed remains the aim.”

GCF criticism 

While Miller reiterated that financial risk assessments would be necessary for only 3% of gambling accounts, the Gamblers Consumer Forum (GCF) has written to the UK Statistics Regulator and questioned the accuracy of this figure, suggesting that more than one million accounts may face enhanced checks. 

The organisation has raised concerns about the methodology used by the Gambling Commission and the government in arriving at the 3% figure.

“We believe this figure is being used to privilege a hypothesis that affordability checks will work, despite their unproven track record in combating addiction and the underlying fact addiction cannot be characterised by losses,” the GCF said. 

Better data

In his speech, Miller also announced that more consultations were planned for early winter and the following year, covering topics such as socially responsible incentives and gambling management tools. 

He also highlighted the 2024 launch of the Gambling Survey of Great Britain, which will provide valuable data for policymakers and regulators.

“When it’s fully rolled out it will be the largest survey of its type anywhere in the world, and will become the new gold standard for participation and prevalence data in Great Britain, with updated questions for the digital age and predictable, regular data for study. 

“We’ve been testing and refining the methodology since we published the results of the pilot and have been updating the stakeholder groups who helped us design it – from operators, academics and lived experience – along the way.

“Many of course are focused on what the new methodology will tell us about the Problem Gambling (PG) rate,” he said. 

He stressed that the PG rate will not necessarily be comparable to the current rate. “The key point is that it will be better data,” he said. 

“Better data will give us a better picture of what gambling in Great Britain looks like today.”

That, in turn, Miller stressed, will lead to better regulation.