Volume: 17 Issue: 5
The British Gambling Commission (‘GC’) published on 30 April 2018 its Business Plan 2018-19 (‘Plan’), which outlines the GC’s work over the next year, touching upon a number of specific projects to be completed in that time. Notably the Plan is the first annual business plan the GC has published since the launch last November of its high-level Strategy 2018-21 (‘Strategy’), which focuses on improving industry standards and improving how the GC operates.
Given its timing in the context of the Strategy, Audrey Ferrie, Legal Director at Pinsent Masons LLP, comments that “as you might expect, the [Plan’s] focus is on consumer research and assessing the effectiveness of current protection and regulation. One of the key practical steps which is being taken this year is the introduction of a programme on best practice for the industry, which will be delivered through publications and events. Overall, the steps the GC proposes to take are indicative of a move towards a more transparent and more heavily regulated environment which prioritises consumer welfare and can keep up with technological advances.”
The Plan focuses on five key priorities, including raising standards in the market and protecting the interests of customers; the GC’s planned actions are divided across the five areas. For instance the GC states that a panel will be established to advise on developments in digital technology, while it will introduce additional requirements for alternative dispute resolution (‘ADR’) providers, and establish new standards with which to review ADR providers. “Last year’s damning criticisms by the GC of complaints processes in the industry mean that it is no surprise to see additional requirements for ADR providers on the GC’s list and I expect to see this given priority, particularly given the focus on this within the recently concluded consultation on ‘fair and open’ provisions within the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice,” said David Clifton, Director at Clifton Davies Consultancy Limited.
“One notable omission from the GC’s Plan is any actions with a view to ensuring British consumers are only gambling with licensed websites, despite the Strategy stating that the potential harm to consumers from illegal gambling is significant,” said Melanie Ellis, Senior Associate at Harris Hagan. “Increasing regulatory standards needs to go hand in hand with preventing unregulated operators from accessing the market, as the higher the standards of regulation the higher the incentive to operate outside the regime. As a starting point, it would be helpful to see a programme of research by the GC into the scale of this problem.”
William Moyes, GC Chairman, draws particular attention in the Plan to the need for improved controls, with the GC looking to industry to design-in protections and control measures from the beginning of product development. “Operators need to monitor and analyse player data more effectively to screen against money laundering and problem gambling indicators,” explains Andrew Tait, Partner at Gordon Dadds. “This will require back end data warehouse systems that can capture key indicator data per player across multiple brands/products and analyse these using sophisticated algorithms. This can be augmented using machine learning or methods to decipher complex patterns of player behaviours.”