FY 2020/21

UKGC enforcement report calls for more compliance from operators in record year for fines

Andrew Rhodes, UKGC Chief Executive.
Reading time 1:48 min

The UK Gambling Commission published on Thursday its annual Compliance and Enforcement Report. The document features the findings of the regulator’s casework against license holders, while also detailing where the industry needs to raise standards.

The review covers the financial year 2020 - 2021, a period during which Commission casework led to the suspension of five operator licenses and the revocation of licenses for one operator and nine personal management license holders.

“As the Commission’s new Chief Executive, I am impressed by the amount of enforcement work carried out, but it is also disappointing that it should be necessary,” Gambling Commission Chief Executive Andrew Rhodes said.

The executive said that, looking back at enforcement in the 2020/21 period, two weaknesses were seen in almost every case: operators failing to adhere to social responsibility and anti-money laundering rules. The financial year saw a total of £32.1 million being paid by 15 gambling businesses as a result of fines or regulatory settlements, more than any previous year.

“Regulations are there for two very good reasons – to protect people and ensure that gambling is crime-free,” Rhodes added. “These rules underpin two of the three licensing objectives, without which it would be impossible for us to permit gambling as laid out in the Gambling Act 2005.”

But according to the chief executive, the reasons for the failings are “almost as concerning” as the failings themselves. Casework revealed that operators are either not making suitable resources available, or are simply putting commercial objectives ahead of regulatory ones.

“This is simply unacceptable and will be seen as such by others in the industry who work hard to achieve compliance,” Rhodes stated. “So, adherence should be at the forefront of every operator’s mind.”

While the Gambling Commission conceded that the last 18 months have been difficult for gambling firms in the UK, and that the future of many companies was unclear during the time, which led to hard decisions to save jobs, this shouldn’t excuse failures to adhere to standards.

“As Great Britain’s regulator for the gambling industry, we still see far too many breaches of regulations where everyone in the industry agrees we should not see them,” Rhodes concluded. “The industry has the resources, skills and knowledge to change this.”

The Gambling Commission has recovered over £100 million in penalty packages since 2017/18, and revoked 10 operator licenses, not including the ones who surrendered their licenses before investigations were completed.

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