UKGC “keen” to engage more directly with its licensees and their trade bodies

The Gambling Commission’s CEO, Neil McArthur, delivered a “Breakfast Briefing” speech to gambling industry CEOs this morning, 18 November 2020.

As is evident from the following ‘recap’ section at the end of his speech, his message to CEOs conveyed:

  • a strong warning to those operators who fail to comply with the Commission’s regulatory standards and
  • a keenness on the part of the Commission to engage more directly in future with those of its licence-holders and their trade bodies that are willing to work in collaboration with the regulator to raise standards further:

Firstly, any operator that tries to bend the rules or is unwilling to comply with the high standards we set will find the Commission is willing and able to drive them out of the British market.

Secondly, I think that the ‘experiment’ of working collaboratively to accelerate progress that results in tangible improvements for customers has been shown to work and we want to build on that approach.

As I have said before, it is not my job to promote the gambling industry; I work in the best interests of customers, but that doesn’t mean that the relationship between the regulator and its licensees has to be adversarial.

We want to do more to help things go right in the first place.

We want to provide support, guidance and offer a forum for sharing best practice.

We want to support the industry in raising standards, not just intervene when things go wrong and, in practice, this means engaging more directly with operators and groups of operators and it’s something that we are keen to do more of in the future.

We are working hard to make Great Britain the safest place to gamble in the world and we need you to work with us to achieve that outcome.

And, whilst I know that many of your businesses have faced enormous struggles.  And I know that some of you will have been forced to make tough decisions to keep your businesses viable in recent months, the fact that everyone has kept customer protection at the top of their agendas – despite all the challenges – tells me that we are on the right track.

Referring to “recommendations of … recent Parliamentary reports”, McArthur’s speech touches on – but in very general terms only – what, in some cases, were very fervent criticisms of the Commission itself, although he has chosen to refer specifically to the least critical such report (i.e. that of the National Audit Office), stating:

Over recent months, we have been carefully considering the recommendations of the recent Parliamentary reports and many of those recommendations can be taken forward using our existing powers.

We have also restructured ourselves to ensure we are fit to rise to the challenges ahead and we are working closely with DCMS to develop proposals which ensure we have the resources we need to meet those challenges.

We accepted what the NAO report said earlier this year, when they stated that we need to evaluate our work better so that we can make better progress, faster.  To do this we need to better understand the needs of customers and the wider public and develop a suite of metrics that can show the impact that our work is having.

You can download the entire speech below.