No fee refund by UKGC for incomplete applications in future

In its 8 February 2021 e-Bulletin, the Gambling Commission has stated as follows:

Incomplete application refunds

From 1 June 2021 we will no longer refund the fee if an application is rejected because it is incomplete. All applicants applying for an operating licence or variation to an existing operating licence must make sure they send all the documents required for a complete application.

Subject to what we say below, this should provide some greater certainty as to the position, bearing in mind that the Commission currently states as follows on its “How do I apply for an operating licence?” webpage (with two seemingly contradictory comments in the second and third paragraphs below):

If any information/payment is missing, this will delay your application or could result in your application being rejected. If your application is complete, we will send you a confirmation letter containing your account number within seven days of receipt.

If we reject your application due to incomplete information and you have paid your fee, we will refund the fee and we will send you a letter explaining what documentation was missing. If you want to, you can reapply online and you must provide the documents that were originally missing and all of the documentation that you originally provided.

If we reject your application due to incomplete information the application fee will not be refunded. We will send you a letter explaining what documentation was missing. If you want to, you can reapply online and you must provide the documents that were originally missing and all of the documentation that you originally provided and pay the application fee.

Nevertheless, what will remain open to question is what constitutes an “incomplete application”? A missing document specifically listed as required by the Commission on the face of its application template is one thing. However, a licensing officer’s determination that, despite what has been supplied with the application, more information is required (including, for example, with regard to (a) assumptions behind financial projections, (b) proof of funding or (c) evidence as to source of funds) leaves open considerable room for disagreement on whether an application can properly be characterised as “incomplete”. It is to be hoped that the Commission will provide very much clearer guidance in this respect.

As an illustration of what most definitely needs to be improved upon, you can download below a copy of the above-mentioned UKGC webpage as it is currently worded.