Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson has called for all online casino operators to reapply for their UK Gambling Commission license.
In a letter to Neil McArthur, the Chief Executive of the UK Gambling Commission, and Jeremy Wright, the culture secretary, Watson questioned the integrity of several operators who run their services from overseas territories.
He highlighted the lack of social responsibility and suggested that around a third of operators failed to protect customers and meet licensing requirements regarding money laundering. He also urged the UK Gambling Commission to cancel the licenses of operators who acquired their license before 2014.
In the letter, which was published by The Times, Watson wrote: “A UK gambling license 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 licenses.”
He continued: “This review would be an opportunity for existing remote license-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 license conditions.”
Tom Watson, an outspoken critic of the gambling industry, had previously campaigned to ban gambling sponsorships of football teams and attempted to introduce stricter control and regulation of online gambling.
The politician had also previously called problem gambling an epidemic in disguise and a public health issue before urging for more research into gambling addictions and “more specialist treatment” for the issue.
The news comes after the UK Gambling Commission announced that four casino operators were fined over anti-money laundering failings. Meanwhile, the Advertising Standards Authority has banned two online gambling advertisements for “glamorising gambling” and linking gambling to sexual success.