The Gambling Commission has published its Annual Report and Accounts 2021-22 (a copy of which you can download below), the Foreword to which reads as follows:
Over the past 12 months, despite the effects and challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic continuing to be felt by countries and communities across the world, the Gambling Commission has maintained significant progress against our objectives and the high-level plans set out in our three-year Corporate Strategy which we launched in April 2021.
Here in our latest Annual Report and Accounts, we report against the delivery of the first year of that strategy, how we have further protected the public and players from harm, and how we are planning for the future by supporting the Government in the Gambling Act Review.
Our Corporate Strategy is delivered through five priority areas:
- protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed by gambling
- a fairer market and more informed consumers
- keeping crime out of gambling
- optimising returns to good causes from the National Lottery
- improving gambling regulation.
First and foremost, we want to address the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. As shown by the data we continue to release, we saw an increase in online gambling, especially during the lengthy lockdowns during 2020 which triggered different behaviours.
However, our strengthened guidance and tighter measures for operators have continued to have a positive effect and gambling behaviour has stabilised – helped by the easing of lockdowns. We continue to monitor the risks and release quarterly updates.
Throughout the year we continued to strongly regulate the National Lottery, ensuring that returns to good causes were maximised through what is one of the world’s largest lotteries. Despite the ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was positive to see £1.84 billion returned to good causes to support arts, sports, heritage and community projects during the year.
We saw a unique and important milestone in March when we named Allwyn Entertainment UK as the preferred applicant for the next licence which will run from 2024. The award of the fourth licence was the culmination of an extensive and thorough three-year process and whilst it is disappointing, we are continuing to work through the legal challenges we have seen from other related stakeholders.
The White Paper around the Government’s wide-ranging review of the Gambling Act is still to be published. We are confident, however, that the package of work we have been looking at over previous months, which includes studying how we regulate, our relationship with the industry, and examining our funding model, will play a key role in the delivery of the various workstreams the review is likely to drive.
Turning to our focussed compliance and enforcement regime, this has remained unaffected over the past 12 months as we continued to hold failing operators to account for not protecting their customers or the reputation of the industry. Over the past 12 months, we issued £26.1 million in fines or regulatory settlements, which included some of our highest operator fines to date for failures in operator practices.
We have issued over £100 million in fines over the past few years but more importantly, we are ramping up our work and engagement to ensure that operators and their boards are under no illusion that non-compliance won’t be accepted and will be met with an ever-increasing and harsher programme of sanctions as part of our work to ensure we regulate effectively. Our annual Compliance and Enforcement report is a part of that work and assists operators with case studies and best practice examples.
Last summer we also welcomed the result of the independent Report into BetIndex. As we said at the time, our actions were centred around protecting consumers, but we accepted the report’s recommendations that we should have drawn a line under our efforts sooner than we did. Overall, the inquiry has helped to shape our future approach to novel products and the risk assessments we carry out – alongside other regulators and authorities.
In February 2021, we announced the formation of our new Lived Experience Advisory Panel (LEAP). Now over a year in, this continues to help us hear the independent voices of those with lived experience of gambling harms, whilst a variety of experts from within the Commission have also looked to the Panel for input to help inform our decision-making, as we also do with the Digital Advisory Panel (DAP) and the Advisory Board for Safer Gambling (ABSG). We would like to thank all chairs for their continued support and advice.
To conclude, we would like to say thank you to the hugely committed and professional team across the Commission for their ongoing work and achievements over the past financial year.
We also want to thank former Commission chair Bill Moyes for his leadership and dedication during his four-year tenure which ended last September, and especially for his work around addressing and raising the profile of reducing harms caused by gambling.
Overall, against a testing and fast-paced background, everyone across the Commission has performed exceptionally this year to ensure our tight regulation has been improved and communicated.
We look forward to further success in the coming year.
Chief Executive and Accounting Officer
In terms of expenditure, it is worth noting (from the following table contained within the Report) the cost incurred by the Gambling Commission in running the Fourth National Lottery Competition, namely a total of £56.51million in the period 2017-18 to 2121-22 inclusive:
Year-on-year operational expenditure for gambling and National Lottery regulation
|Data definitions||2017-18 (£ million)||2018-19 (£ million)||2019-20 (£ million)||2020-21 (£ million)||2021-22 (£ million)|
|National Lottery regulation||2.98m||2.80m||2.96m||2.76m||2.60m|
|National Lottery competition||0.64m||4.08m||13.29m||14.84m||23.66m|
|Horserace Betting Levy activity||0.04m||0.16m||–||–||–|
|Total costs of operation||23.19m||27.58m||37.45m||38.17m||45.19m|