The Parliamentary All Party Betting and Gaming Group (APBGG) has launched an inquiry into the effectiveness and competence of the UK Gambling Commission.
The APBGG has launched its inquiry after reportedly receiving several criticisms of the regulator in reports published in 2020 by the National Audit Office, the House Of Lords Select Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry, and the Public Accounts Committee.
The Parliamentary group believes there are more faults than what was identified by the reports, and with the UK Government carrying out its review of the Gambling Act 2005, the APBGG has decided to launch an inquiry into the Gambling Commission and review its effectiveness and competency within the wider British gambling industry.
Due to concerns that members of the gambling industry are “too scared” to publicly criticise the regulator, the APBGG has invited all gambling operators and advisers to anonymously submit criticisms and any evidence they believe may showcase the regulator acting in an “unacceptable” manner.
The Parliamentary Group has set a deadline of October 31, 2021, to hear all complaints and has shared plans to submit all findings to the DCMS to inform the Government’s review of the Gambling Act 2005, which is already examining the UK Gambling Commission and assessing its powers as a regulator.
The APBGG issued a statement, acquired via European Gaming, which reads: “We are very conscious that for many operators and their advisers, they have no real avenue to express their concerns, as the only way to complain about the Gambling Commission is to submit a complaint to the Gambling Commission.
“We are also conscious that many operators are actually scared of complaining about their regulator as they fear retribution either directly or indirectly. We will provide the industry and its advisers with the means to submit their complaints to us, identifying who they are so we can ensure such complaints are from valid organisations, and then anonymise these complaints and present them in a report.”
Scott Benton MP, the Co-Chair of the APBGG, said in a statement to CasinoBeats: “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.
“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 news comes after the UK Gambling Commission faced criticism over its handling of the collapse of the gambling operator Football Index. Back in March, the football-based trading website fell into administration around the time the UK Gambling Commission suspended its operating license.
As the gambling website fell into administration, it faced an additional loss when the Queen’s Park Rangers and Nottingham Forest football clubs ended their sponsorship deals with the firm. The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) also suspended the website’s membership, stating that the organisation’s priority at the time was “ensuring that the interests of BetIndex Ltd’s customers are protected.”
Gambling Commission Approves New Gambling Harm Programme
News of the inquiry into the UK Gambling Commission comes after the regulator approved an £800k settlement for a new public health programme to tackle gambling-related harm in the region of Yorkshire and the Humber.
The programme will reportedly run for three years and aims to educate people on the risks of gambling and provide access to support and treatment for individuals and their families. The Commission has hopes that the programme will improve the identification of issues through workplace training initiatives, will educate gamblers on self-management, and will direct gamers to support facilities while also protecting high-risk or vulnerable people.
Tim Miller, the Gambling Commission Executive Director, said in a statement to iGamingBusiness: “We welcome this ambitious project across Yorkshire and Humber. A well-planned, cohesive public health approach to tackling gambling harms is exactly what the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms was designed to stimulate.
“We are pleased to be able to approve the funding, which was agreed through regulatory settlements, as part of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.”
Greg Fell, the Chair of the Yorkshire and Humber Harmful Gambling Working Group, commented: “We aim to deliver a gold standard programme that can be replicated across the UK. We are in the unique position of having a diverse population across city, town, rural, and coastal environments, which offer the potential for an effective activity blueprint that could be used by other regions.”
He added: “We know high deprivation areas and low-income workers are disproportionately negatively affected by gambling, so this will be our focus.”
The UK Gambling Commission’s approval of the new public health programme comes after gambling charity GambleAware announced the launch of a new £3 million training initiative designed to combat the rise of gambling addiction and to raise awareness of gambling harm.
As we reported earlier this month, the programme, which is known as the Gambling Harms Awareness and Support initiative, will provide professionals who are often approached by members of the public for help on gambling issues with the knowledge, awareness, and skills to offer guidance and support on gambling-related harm.
It also comes after the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM) partnered with Betknowmore UK and Bournemouth University to launch the Mindful Resilience initiative, a programme designed to address the lack of knowledge and confidence amongst health professionals when it comes to diagnosing young people with gaming or gambling addictions.
BGC Urges Government To Continue With An Evidence-Based Gambling Review
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has issued a statement urging the UK Government to continue with its evidence-based review of the Gambling Act 2005, while congratulating Nadine Dorries as the new secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport.
Dorries was named into the position as part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle, replacing Oliver Dowden. Departmental responsibilities in the DCMS haven’t yet been finalised, so it’s unclear who will spearhead the Gambling Review following John Whittingdale’s departure.
The BGC’s Michael Dugher issued a statement over the weekend congratulating Dorries on her appointment to the cabinet, while also paying tribute to Dowden and Whittingdale. It reads: “On behalf of the 119,000 people whose jobs are supported by our members – from the high street to hospitality, from tourism to tech – I’d like to congratulate Nadine Dorries on her well-deserved promotion as Secretary of State for DCMS.
“This is an important time for our industry, which generates £4.5bn in taxes for the Treasury and contributes £7.7bn for the economy in gross value added.”
He continued: “We have been working extremely closely with the DCMS over very many months to help the Government find the right balance in the Gambling Review, so that we continue to drive big changes and higher standards on safer gambling to better protect the most vulnerable, whilst at the same time ensuring that the millions of people who enjoy an occasional flutter perfectly safely and responsibly have the freedom to do so. It is vital the Government continues with its evidence-led approach.”
“We also want to play our part in helping Britain to build back better from the pandemic, as shown by our support for the Government’s Plan For Jobs.
“I’d also like to pay tribute to John Whittingdale, the outgoing minister who was leading on the Review, for his willingness to engage with the industry. I’d like to thank the outgoing Secretary of State, Oliver Dowden, for his support, especially when so much of our sector was closed during the Covid lockdowns. I wish Oliver all the very best in his new important role at the Cabinet Office.”