At a time when the gambling industry is facing a lot of (and currently potentially unknown) changes in gambling regulation, the Gambling Commission has issued a new three-year Corporate Strategy setting out its five priority areas of focus:
- protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed by gambling
- a fairer market and more informed consumers
- keeping crime out of gambling
- optimising returns to good causes from the National Lottery, and
- improving gambling regulation.
The government’s review of the Gambling Act 2005 is expected to conclude partway through the life of the strategy, so the Commission highlights that it must balance the need to make progress while remaining flexible to adapt to the outcomes of that review. It also points out that regulation must balance consumer choice and the enjoyment gambling can bring against the risks gambling presents to some consumers and wider society and states that it is not an easy balance.
Protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed by gambling
The Commission aims to ensure that gambling licence holders minimise the risk of gambling harm to vulnerable groups as part of a coordinated effort to understand factors that influence behaviour. It says that this will be achieved through improving conduct and competence, continuing to evolve the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice, building a stronger evidence base, and focusing on preventative and regulatory action.
A fairer market and more informed consumers
The Commission says that ensuring that products are fair and compliant is vital, as well as improving information for players and making it easier for them to find information on operators they are gambling with. This also includes making licence holders’ complaints procedures easier to access and understand.
Keeping crime out of gambling
The Commission aims to tackle operators who offer illegal and unlicensed gambling to consumers in Great Britain, whilst also working alongside partner agencies, to prevent activities which lead to money laundering. The Commission’s work to manage risks around sports betting integrity and event manipulation will also be a significant feature in future enforcement activities.
Optimising returns to good causes from the National Lottery
The Commission points out that the National Lottery is one of the world’s largest with millions given to good causes each year. The Commission aims to ensure the effective management of the third licence continues, whilst also concluding the fair and open competition for the fourth licence - facilitating a smooth and effective transition.
Improving gambling regulation
Over the past year the Commission has been restructured with the aim of ensuring effective regulation in the future. The Commission will support the UK government with the Gambling Act review whilst also building on work it is already undertaking following recommendations from three key reports in 2020 into gambling regulation (from the National Audit Office, Public Accounts Committee and House of Lords Select Committee). The Commission says that it will work with DCMS to ensure it has the resources to regulate effectively, to ensure employees are continually developed and technology is harnessed to improve systems and processes.
The Gambling Commission’s Strategy sits alongside its 2021-22 Business Plan, which sets out the priorities to accelerate progress in making gambling and safer for the public and players, including those at risk of harm and leisure gamblers. This includes a focus on improving the way the Commission regulates in parallel with other high-profile decisions to be announced later this year including the UK government’s review of the Gambling Act 2005 and a review of the Commission’s fees by the DCMS.
“Over the next three years we will see the gambling industry change further, especially as the pace of innovation accelerates. As the regulator we must keep pace with that change, be ready to adapt, and ensure that the millions of people who gamble in Great Britain can do so safely” - Gambling Commission chair, Bill Moyes