New UK Gambling Commission Chairman Plans to Take Harder Line With Regulatory Offenders

  • Financial penalties in their current form do not appear to be a deterrent to errant licensees
  • Boyle is proposing the introduction of much tougher sanctions on rule-breaking operators
  • He also wants to significantly increase compliance standards across the board
  • The UKGC is investing in improving technological capabilities to boost compliance checks
Man pointing to "regulation" on virtual screen
The UKGC chairman has revealed plans to clamp down on errant operators and raise overall compliance standards. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Not a sufficient model currently

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) chairman has revealed plans to take a harder line on regulatory offenders. Marcus Boyle, who became chairman of the UKGC in September, made his first public statement this week since taking office. In an op-ed in The Sunday Times, Boyle laid out a roadmap to get to a better regulatory environment.

He mentioned how he has been working to identify any beneficial changes for both the industry and consumers since he got into office. One of the key areas of improvement that Boyle highlighted is cracking down on operators that persistently break regulations.

does not appear to be a sufficient deterrent to offenders

Despite handing out hefty fines to many operators, the current approach does not appear to be a sufficient deterrent to offenders. Boyle is proposing the introduction of cumulative sanction packages that would carry greater financial penalties, as well as fines being calculated on the percentage of profits, and the implementation of long-term license suspensions.

Increasing levels of compliance

Boyle believes that the days of operators being content to comply wtih regulations at the lowest levels .are over. He wants a commitment from operators to actually learn from failings. The UKGC has now launched, alongside many leading operators, a new best practice study. The goal of the study is to assess the algorithms that are used to spot at-risk gambling activity and the protective measures that operators subsequently take when they’ve identified an at-risk gambler.

Over the past five years, the UKGC has issued over £130m ($163m) worth of fines to errant licensees.

Boyle would like to see the introduction of an independent standards audit and extend official accreditation to operators that have the greatest levels of compliance. Other new possible measures that Boyle mentioned include conducting soft credit checks when assessing the affordability of a user, gathering more data about gambling behavior, and looking more at the links between gambling and suicide.

Investing for the future

Another area of focus is expanding the UKGC’s technological capabilities which will increase the number of checks that it can conduct on operators. There will also be an emphasis on having more engagement with operators and sharing of info so as to ultimately benefit users. Finally, Boyle believes that technology and data can be key tools in monitoring and taking action against the black market.

Boyle took over as UKGC chairman after the previous chairman Bill Moyles resigned on the back of the Football Index collapse.

Boyle is confident that the Gambling Act review will be a success and will help to introduce beneficial legislative change. He envisions the new framework as better meeting the needs of the industry and will allow the UKGC to better regulate the sector. The knock-on result is keeping gamblers protected from harm while still allowing recreational gamblers to enjoy themselves.