The UK Gambling Commission could be heading for choppy water after the All-Party Betting & Gaming Group (APBGG) revealed on Monday their plan to launch a full inquiry into the regulator.
A press release, published on the APBGG website, confirmed that they were asking all UK licensed brands and their advisers to submit their anonymous feedback on the role and worth of the Commission.
The Group, a powerful and influential advisor to government ministers on gambling policy, revealed they had received ‘multiple complaints’ from a number of different stakeholders of the sector as to the Commission’s conduct.
Launched to the backdrop of the review and reform of the Gambling Act 2005, the APBGG’s desire is to test the ‘competence and effectiveness’ of the UKGC, taking feedback from major players in the industry to get a wider lens view on how the regulator could improve….or whether it’s on borrowed time.
The ‘approach and actions’ of the Commission are also up for discussion in the call for evidence, which will be live on the APBGG website until the deadline of October 31. In particular they want gambling operators to answer three general questions:
- Has the Commission acted ‘beyond their powers’ as a regulator?
- Has the Commission breached the Regulators’ Code (statutes industry regulators must abide by)
- Has the Commission provided poor quality service or acted incompetently?
Asleep at the Wheel
The UKGC has long been under fire as those in the sector debate its effectiveness and fitness for purpose in regulating an industry that has undergone a marked sea-change in the past decade. They have issued licenses to a number of brands that have since gone into liquidation – not least Football Index, whose customers are still yet to be fully refunded for their lost money, which is believed to total some £90 million.
It has since emerged that the UKGC had launched their own independent probe into the firm, but after ten months had failed to take action – leaving some to accuse them of being ‘asleep at the wheel’.
Other governmental departments and senior independent agencies, including the National Audit Office, the Public Accounts Committee and the House of Lords Select Committee, have also been quick to condemn the Commission in the sternest of terms.
The call for evidence from the APBGG will allow operators to have their say anonymously – without fear of ‘retribution’ from the regulator. Until now, the only way to make a complaint about the UK Gambling Commission was to open a dialogue with….the UK Gambling Commission.
The findings of the review are likely to be fed back to the ministers responsible for the review of the Gambling Act, and Scott Benton – the co-chair of APBGG – has confirmed that there’s no time like the present.
“I believe it is essential that the key player in our industry is challenged over its actions,” he said.
“For a number of years, industry members have come to us and complained about the activities of the Commission. They have been too scared to go public with their concerns, some even about the very legality of the Commission’s undertakings due to the Commission’s power over them.”
“We are pleased that the new interim CEO [Andrew Rhodes] has been given the job of ‘rebooting’ the regulator, we hope that the findings of our investigation will help him and DDCMS answer some very serious concerns that the industry has.”