Thinly veiled warning to PML holders issued by Gambling Commission chairman

As reported by the Gambling Commission on its website, on 28 January 2020, its chairman Bill Moyes delivered a speech at the North West Reducing Gambling Harms event, launched by Councils and the Combined Authority across Greater Manchester.

His speech (that can be downloaded below) focused on the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms (published in April 2019) but, in a thinly veiled warning to PML holders in particular, he said:

Increasingly the Boards of gambling operators claim to understand that they need to put consumer safety first and we welcome this.  But warm words are not enough.

My questions to Boards have been and remain:

  1. How do you know that the company’s stated policies on consumer protection are being followed in practice? How do you know that junior staff and middle management have absorbed the message and changed their behaviour?
  2. Does the company’s approach to promotion, bonuses, training and development reinforce the message that protecting consumers from harm is top priority? Or does the company’s management regime give the subliminal message that the real priority is growing market share and financial strength?

The evidence is not good. During my time a number of serious licence breaches have involved staff encouraging so-called VIP gamblers to gamble when they had self-excluded.

So, we think that increasingly our enforcement activity will have to consider not just the company, but also the behaviour of key individuals, particularly those who currently hold personal licences or who might be required to hold licences in the future. Perhaps the threat of exclusion of specific individuals from the industry will have a greater impact than fining the company.

This is not a new warning. As reported by us in November 2018, the Commission’s CEO, Neil McArthur, said then: “Anyone in a position of authority needs to be aware that we will not only act against businesses when we take regulatory action – we will also hold individuals to account where they are responsible for an operator’s failings”.

You can also download below: