Conscious of the review of the Gambling Act 2005 being undertaken by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, the Parliamentary All Party Betting & Gaming Group has launched an inquiry into the competence and effectiveness of the regulator of British gambling, the UK Gambling Commission.
After receiving “numerous criticisms” of the regulator from members of the industry, the group adds that the comments made about the UKGC in the reports issued by the Public Accounts Committee, National Audit Office and House of Lords Select Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry in 2020 did not cover the full breadth of the allegations they have heard made against it.
Furthermore, due to the APBGG’s particular concern that members of the industry may be ‘too scared to publicly criticise the UKGC due to its power over them’, all operators and their advisers are invited to contribute by visiting the APBGG website. Here, they can anonymously submit criticisms, complaints, as well as any evidence they may have of the Gambling Commission acting in a way they feel is ‘unacceptable’ of an industry regulator.
“As co-chairman of the All Party Betting and Gaming Group, I believe it is essential that the key player in our industry is challenged over its actions,” commented Scott Benton MP, co-chair of the Parliamentary All Party Betting & Gaming Group.
“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.
“As they have no formal method of complaint apart from the Commission itself, we feel it is our duty to provide a conduit for legitimate criticism of the regulator.”
The APBGG has categorised the types of complaint that may be submitted: where it is felt that the Gambling Commission has acted beyond the powers of a regulator; where it is felt that it has acted in breach of the regulators code; or where it is felt that it has provided to the industry a level of service that is either of poor quality and/or incompetently delivered to a level that brings into question its ability to adequately function.
Setting a deadline for complaints of October 31, 2021, the parliamentary group aims to submit its findings to the DCMS to inform the review of the 2005 Gambling Act – should the number of complaints be ‘sufficient’ – as well as to any relevant BEIS Minister with responsibility of oversight of industry regulators.
Additionally, the group plans to invite the CEO of the UKGC, Andrew Rhodes, to attend an invited industry audience meeting of the group to respond to the report in order to ‘make it possible to have the report distributed to whoever wants it’.
However, the project will be abandoned if the APBGG does not receive a sufficient number of complaints to inform the development and publication of a report into UKGC activity.
Benton added: “We are pleased that the new interim CEO 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. All the British gambling industry wants is a competent and effective regulator.”