Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour Party, is calling for licence reviews and a potential re-application process for UK Gambling Commission licensed operators.

In a letter to Neil McArthur, chief executive officer of the UKGC, and Jeremy Wright, the culture secretary, Watson questions the integrity of a number of those operating in the jurisdiction, many of which do so from overseas.

Stressing that a green light to proceed into the UK “should be a hallmark of credibility and trust,” Watson stressed that the regulator cannot be in a position where it is continually playing catch-up.

This comes hot on the heels of the UKGC issuing £4.5m of penalty packages to InTouch Games, Betit Operations, MT Secure Trade and BestBet, as a result of anti-money laundering and safeguard failings.

Over the last 18 months the regulator has conducted assessments of, or engaged with, 123 online operators, and of the 45 told to submit an action plan to raise standards 38 have already showed signs of improvement.

A further 34 were compliant with standards expected by the Commission or had minor issues which have been, or are in the process of being remedied.

In Watson’s letter to McArthur and Wright, as seen and published by The Times, it’s stated: “A UK gambling licence should be a hallmark of credibility and trust. It should not be seen as an opportunity for operators to push the limits of their conditions and responsibilities.

“The regulator cannot be in a position where it is continually playing catch-up to an opaque and agile global industry. We need a structured response to the situation. This will require a total overhaul of our register of current remote sector licences.”

Adding: “This review would be an opportunity for existing remote licence-holders to reapply for the privilege of operating and marketing in the UK.

“It is essential that the government, working with the regulator, can reassess the financial probity of operators, the identity and character of their owners, the contributions they make to the research, education and treatment of problem gambling, the partnerships they have with our sports clubs, and any recent breaches of licence conditions.”