Use your licence or risk losing it!

Earlier this month, the Gambling Commission revoked the combined remote casino, general betting standard (real event), and gambling software operating licence of Lucky 8 Limited under section 119 of the Gambling Act 2005 on the ground that it was unsuitable to carry on the licensed activities.

More particularly, one of the grounds for revocation was that the licence-holder had not been acting in reliance on its licence since 2011, despite repeated assurances as to when trading would begin.

However, that was not the sole ground for revocation because the Commission found that the licence-holder had also:

  1. failed to report two key events in breach of licence condition 15.2.1.4, i.e. changes of shareholder or member holding 3% or more of the issued share capital of the licensee or its holding company,
  2. failed to report key events in breach of licence condition 15.2.1.6, i.e. the taking of loans by the licensee (or by a group company that then makes an equivalent loan to the licensee) from any person not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, and
  3. failed to provide a satisfactory assurance in relation to its source of funding.

This revocation followed earlier licence reviews under section 116 of the 2005 Act, that saw (in June and July 2018 respectively) the two following operating licences revoked under section 119 on the question of continued need to hold an operating licence:

  • Mad Gaming Limited for failure to provide facilities for gambling in reliance on its operating licence since its issue on 21 January 2015 and
  • Joanne Rowan, for failure to provide facilities for gambling in reliance on her operating licence since its issue on 8 May 2009.
In the above respect, paragraphs 3.9 & 3.10 of the Gambling Commission’s Statement of Principles for Licensing state as follows:
  • 3.9 The Commission will not issue licences to people who do not need them. If a licence is issued but an operator or individual does not provide facilities for gambling in reliance on that licence within a reasonable period, the Commission may commence a licence review with a view to revoking the licence if that appears necessary.
  • 3.10 The Commission may grant licences (particularly remote gambling licences) subject to a condition that requires an operator to begin to offer facilities for gambling within a specified timescale.

In our experience from assisting clients in not dissimilar situations, the Commission will draw a line between (a) those who are serious about trading their operating licence and have a convincing explanation why they have not yet done so and (b) those who fail to convince the Commission that they have any serious intention to trade at all (including, for example, those who have obtained a UK licence solely to enable them to advertise to British consumers).

NB: If you want to check whether a gambling business or personal licence holder licensed by the Gambling Commission has had a regulatory sanction imposed on them, you can either search the Commission’s licence register or its lists of regulatory sanctions that have recently been imposed on operating licence holders or on personal licence holders. Sanctions are published by the Commission once the operator or individual involved has been informed and any objections to publication have been considered.