The Gambling Commission (UKGC) has made a call for opinions on government proposals in several areas of the UK Gambling Act review.

The regulator has requested responses from gambling businesses and consumers alike, as well as any other interested groups wishing to have their say on the proposals.

The opening of the consultations “marks a really important moment in turning the commitments in the government’s white paper into practical reality,” said UKGC policy director Tim Miller in a video calling for responses.

The consultations will remain open for a period of 12 weeks, Miller added, “and I want to encourage as many people as possible to respond so that your views can shape our next steps in making gambling fairer and safer.”

Consultation areas

The consultations will take place around how the UKGC intends to implement government proposals put forward in the Gambling Act review.

Key areas of focus include financial risk and vulnerability, specifically the government’s plan to introduce “risk-based and proportionate checks” to better understand individual customers’ risk of experiencing gambling harm.

Another area open for consultation is on the design of online gambling games, and proposals to reduce the speed and intensity of some products “while making them fairer and increasing consumer understanding about game play.”

Direct marketing is another area on which the UKGC has requested opinions, as the Gambling Act review set out proposals to require operators to allow customers to opt in to receive certain kinds of marketing related to certain kinds of products.

With this proposal, the UKGC said, “the aim is to empower customers by giving them more control over the direct gambling marketing they wish to receive and ensure they do not receive marketing that they do not want to receive.”

Other proposals on which the regulator is seeking feedback include changes to age verification processes in land-based gambling venues, clarifications on which roles within operator companies require personal management licences, and the composition and decision-making processes of the UKGC’s regulatory panels.

Separately, the UK government has launched its own consultation on the issue of stake limits for online slots.

It is currently assessing the impact of stake limits set between £2 and £15.

The Gambling Commission of Great Britain (GC) imposed a total of £32.1m in fines and regulatory settlements on UK-licensed operators during 2020-21 – a higher figure than in any previous year.

Casework undertaken during the period also led the Commission to suspend five operator licences and revoke a further operator licence, as well as nine personal management licences.

“As the Commission’s new chief executive, I am impressed by the amount of enforcement work carried out, but it is also disappointing that it should be necessary,” said Andrew Rhodes, who took interim charge of the regulator in June. 

He added: “Looking back at enforcement in 2020-21, we see the same two weaknesses in almost every case – operators failing to adhere to social responsibility and anti-money laundering rules.

“These regulations are there for two very good reasons – to protect people and ensure that gambling is crime-free. These rules underpin two of the three licensing objectives, without which it would be impossible for us to permit gambling as laid out in the Gambling Act 2005.

“Adherence should be at the forefront of every operator’s mind.” Rhodes added that the reasons for the failings were “almost as concerning as the failings themselves”.

The regulator’s casework revealed that operators failed to comply with regulations due to either a lack of suitable resources dedicated to compliance, or simply because they prioritised commercial objectives ahead of regulatory ones.

Rhodes described the situation as “simply unacceptable,” and concluded that the gambling industry has the required resources, skills and knowledge to change the situation, so that fewer compliance failings take place in the future.