It has been reported today (4 November 2020) by the Gambling Commission that, after a hearing before the Commission’s Regulatory Panel, a decision was taken on 21 October 2020 to revoke the non-remote casino operating licence of Silverbond Enterprises Limited (trading as the Park Lane Casino) pursuant to section 102(4)(b) of the Gambling Act 2005.
Today’s Commission’s report (that you can download below) reads as follows:
Silverbond Enterprises Ltd – licence revocation
The Commission has revoked the operating licence of Silverbond Enterprises Ltd which runs Park Lane Casino.
The decision was made because there was a change in corporate control at the operator and the Commission is not satisfied that it would have granted the operating licence to the Licensee had the new controller been a controller of the company when the application for the operating licence was made.
Helen Venn, Commission Executive Director, said:
“We regulate gambling in the public interest and to maintain public confidence in the industry. In doing this we must be provided with information about those who run or have significant interest in gambling businesses. We revoked this licence because we are not satisfied as to the source of funds (SOF) used to acquire and support the Licensee at the time of the change of corporate control or to whom future profits of the Licensee would be paid. We also identified concerns with the suitability of the new controller because of its unsatisfactory history in providing information requested as part of our enquiries.”
Subject to appeal the revocation takes effect on 18 November 2020.
More details can be found on the Commission’s regulatory decisions register.
If Silverbond Enterprises appeals the revocation of its licence before 18 November, it can be expected that the revocation will be stayed until the outcome of the appeal.
The Park Lane Casino was last in the news for regulatory reasons in September 2019 when Silverbond Enterprises Limited received a £1.8million fine from the Commission, together with imposition of additional licence conditions for AML and customer interaction failings (as reported by us here).
The statutory background
Section 102 of the Gambling Act 2005 sets out a statutory process when a change of corporate control affecting an operating licence-holding company takes place.
Such a change takes place when a person (or other legal entity) either directly or indirectly:
- owns 10% or more of the shares
- is entitled to 10% or more of the rights to profits/dividends
- has 10% or more of the voting power and/or
- is able to exercise significant influence over the management of an existing licensed operator.
In any one or more of the above circumstances, a new “controller” of the operating licence-holding company in question is created and, within five weeks of that occurring, the licensee must inform the Gambling Commission of this fact (in addition to giving the Commission a key event notification pursuant to Licence condition 18.104.22.168) and either:
- surrender its operating licence under section 113 of the 2005 Act, or
- apply to the Commission under section 102(2)(b) for a determination that its operating licence shall continue to have effect.
Under section 102(4), the Commission may give approval to the change of corporate control if it is satisfied that that it would have granted the operating licence at the time of the original application, had the new controller been the controller of the company at the time. If it is not so satisfied, then the Commission must revoke the operating licence.
More information about the change of corporate control application process (including ability to make an advance such application in respect of a person/entity who is expected to become a controller of an operating licence-holding company) can be found on the Gambling Commission’s website here.
An previous revocation of a remote casino licence in similar circumstances was the subject of a ‘Licensing Expert’ article by David Clifton for SBC News in June 2019, entitled “Beware the Gambling Commission’s change of corporate control process”.
UPDATE: On 6 November 2020, it was reported by iGaming Business that Silverbond Enterprises intends to appeal the Gambling Commission’s decision to revoke its operating licence, a spokesperson for Silverbond being quoted within iGB’s article as saying: “Silverbond Enterprises Ltd has confirmed that it will be submitting an appeal to the First Tier Tribunal against the decision of the Regulatory Panel of the Commission to revoke the operating licence. The appeal will be submitted before 18 November 2020.”