UK White-Label regime called into question

David Clifton is quoted in a Gambling Compliance article by Scott Longley entitled “UK White-Label regime called into question”

That article picks up on criticism by Tom Watson MP, shadow culture secretary and deputy leader of the Labour Party, of the “white-label” gambling partnership arrangements currently permitted by the Gambling Commission.

His criticism is contained in a recent article within Parliament’s magazine The House (entitled “Tom Watson: Gambling companies should have to reapply for their licences and undergo proper scrutiny”).

You can download below:

  • the Gambling Compliance article featuring David’s comments
  • The House article by Tom Watson and
  • the Commission’s webpage on the subject of “White label gambling websites”.

Whilst we do not for one moment criticise Tom Watson for raising genuine concerns about responsible gambling and player protection issues, we believe that his article for The House raises a host of questions, including:

  1. Is he contending that the Gambling Commission has not fulfilled its licensing and regulatory responsibilities sufficiently when it has licensed overseas based operators targeting UK custom since 2014?
  2. Is he suggesting that all UK licensed online operators should be tarred with the same brush that he applies in that article (and in his recent speech to Demos and letter to The Times) to the relatively small number of UK licensed gambling operators that have been the subject of regulatory sanctions?
  3. Is he suggesting that both parties to a white-label arrangement should be licensed by the Gambling Commission and, if so, does he understand how white label arrangements work with ultimate gambling regulatory responsibility resting with the B2C licence holding company?
  4. Is he blaming the industry and its regulator for allowing overseas gambling operators to advertise their wares by way of shirt sponsorship when it is strongly arguable that the Gambling Act 2005 permits this as long as effective steps are taken to prevent British consumers from using the gambling facilities in question?
  5. With reference to what he now calls “analogue legislation”, as someone who claims to be IT savvy, how come he did not know that (a) the Gambling Act 2005 (introduced by a Government in which he was at that time a whip) specifically provided for the regulation and licensing of online gambling and (b) it would inevitably be affected by technological development in the coming years or, to use his words “almost immediately be overtaken by the pace of digital change”?

UPDATE: Gambling Compliance has subsequently reported that “UK Gambling Commission officials are pushing back against a Labour politician’s call for review of all online gambling licences, but are sympathetic to his proposal for an ombudsman to help settle player complaints”. They quote Neil McArthur, CEO of the Gambling Commission as saying:

  • “An extensive review of licences granted since the 2014 launch of online gambling legislation is not needed because licensees are subject to ongoing ‘dynamic risk assessments’ and those that fall short ‘have been the subject of significant scrutiny”.
  • “We are constantly taking judgements on their levels of compliance. We will be tough when we find operators bending the rules or failing to meet our expectations, but we also want to try and minimise the need for such action by providing advice, a programme of support material and compliance activity to help operators get things right in the first place”.


Download article PDF: GC - White label gambling websites