David Clifton is quoted in a news article for the May 2018 edition of “Online Gambling Lawyer” entitled “GC Business Plan 2018-19 echoes three-year Strategy”, saying that he expects to see additional requirements for ADR providers given priority, given the focus on this within the Commission’s recently concluded consultation on “fair and open” provisions within the LCCP. You can access the OGL news article here.
We have previously reported on the Commission’s new Business Plan. By way of additional comment on it, in our view:
- greater protection of the consumer clearly remains at the forefront of the Gambling Commission’s strategy,
- any lingering doubts that there might have been a change of regulatory direction were banished by the Commission’s response to the RGSB’s recent progress report which reinforced its now long-held view that “there is still considerable work to be done to protect consumers from gambling related harm” and that the industry needs “to step up and work to raise standards and reduce the risk of harm”,
- the Commission’s emphasis during Sarah Harrison’s time as CEO on accelerating the pace of change in raising standards has eventually borne fruit with increasing numbers of gambling operators concluding that their prospects of future commercial success are dependent on the restoration of public trust in their industry, and
- this has involved a good deal of catch-up on the part of B2C operators and B2B gambling product developers alike and we read the Commission’s comment about “designing-in protections and control measures from the start of gaming product development” as urging them to design-in protections to prevent consumers suffering gambling-related harm in the first place, rather than merely putting in place mechanisms to mitigate harms after they have occurred (as indeed was mentioned in Sarah Harrison’s swansong speech at ICE in February this year).
- Paragraph 2.2 of that Statement of Principles states that the Commission will work “with licensees and other stakeholders in regulating gambling in the interests of consumers and the wider public”. It is to be hoped that the appointment of Neil McArthur as the new CEO will herald a greater degree of collaboration taking place between the regulator and its licence-holders (including, for example, by means of joint working parties) when implementing the steps and measures outlined in the Business Plan.
- In so doing, the aim should be to ensure that the minimum additional burdens necessary to promote the licensing objectives are imposed on the industry, bearing in mind that paragraph 2.7 of the Statement of Principles states that “the Commission will ensure that its regulatory approach does not impose unnecessary regulatory burdens in upholding the licensing objectives in the Act, and does not unduly hinder the economic progress of licensees”, underlined by paragraph 2.12, that states: “The Commission will seek to provide a fair regulatory framework within which existing operators and new entrants can compete and grow with as limited a regulatory burden as is compatible with the protection of consumers, the protection of the wider public, and the upholding of the licensing objectives”.