The Parliamentary All Party Betting & Gaming Group (APBGG) – most certainly not to be confused with the Gambling Related Harm APPG – has commenced “an investigation into the competence and effectiveness of the regulator of British gambling, the Gambling Commission”.
The APBGG has published an invitation to stakeholders to submit (by 31 October 2021) their complaints about the Commission in relation to circumstances:
- where they feel the Commission has acted Ultra Vires or beyond their powers as a regulator,
- where they feel the Commission has acted in breach of the Regulators Code – rules by which all regulators must abide (s.22 of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006) and/or
- where they feel the Commission acts in a way that can be considered either incompetent or providing poor customer service or as many have suggested unworthy of the licensing fee.
The above links take you (or at least should take you, because the APBGG’s second link above is not functioning correctly at the time we are posting this report) to the relevant webpage on which examples are given by the APBGG of each type of situation where it believes complaints might be justified, including suggestions that the Commission was acting beyond its powers in relation to:
- the concept of customer affordability, as originally introduced in October 2019 within the Commission’s Customer Interaction Guidance in October 2019,
- additional customer interaction guidance for remote gambling operators (of the type introduced in May 2020) and
- the Commission’s HVC guidance, as introduced in October 2020.
The APBGG’s website contains a facility enabling respondents to submit their comments online via that website. It also states that it “will publish all examples anonymously” but adding “we need you to provide your details so we can confirm you are a genuine member of the industry or its advisers”.
Whether tactically this is the correct time for those within, or associated with, the UK licensed industry to mount such an investigation is a moot point, even though some of the criticisms of the Commission mentioned by the APBGG undoubtedly have a sound foundation.
Some may fear that one unintended consequence of the APBGG’s investigation would be a decision by the UK Government (as part of its Review of the Gambling Act 2005) to grant to the regulator even stronger and wider powers than it presently possesses. Such an outcome would certainly be welcomed by many of those opposed to gambling or demanding that much stronger regulatory controls are imposed on the British gambling industry.
1. On 27 October 2021, the APBGG extended the deadline of its inquiry into the competence and effectiveness of the Gambling Commission. Its press release states as follows: