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Gambling Commission sets out aims for improved regulation and a fairer market

Out-Law News | 12 Apr 2021 | 2:53 pm | 2 min. read

The Gambling Commission, which regulates gambling in Great Britain, has set out a vision for a “fair and safe gambling market where all consumers and the interests of the wider public are protected” in a new strategy covering the next three years.

The strategy reflects changes in the way people are gambling, with a particular shift to online gambling. The Commission said changes in consumer behaviour and emerging technology created new risks and opportunities for regulation to keep pace with.

The Commission set out five strategic objectives for the next three years: protecting children and vulnerable people from being harmed by gambling; creating a fairer market and more informed consumers; keeping crime out of gambling; optimising returns to good causes from the National Lottery; and improving gambling regulation.

The strategy document acknowledged that the Gambling Commission’s regulatory approach could not stand still and said the regulator needed to act quickly at times to deliver its core functions and support staff.

The Commission said it would focus on the review of the Gambling Act which began in December 2020 as well as build on work it was already doing to implement recommendations from the National Audit Office, Public Accounts Committee and House of Lords select committee on gambling harm.

It will also develop a framework to help evaluate the impact of projects and interventions, and seek to automate systems and processes in order to invest more resources in frontline work.

The Gambling Commission said it would use a number of tools to protect consumers, including carrying out thematic compliance work to examine how risks are being managed, identifying where developments in gambling products or services might pose a risk of harm and responding “at pace” where required.

It will focus its efforts on preventative and regulatory action to support the implementation of the national strategy to reduce gambling harms, including working with stakeholders and partners to develop the right mix of controls to be applied by gambling licence holders.

Ferrie Audrey

Audrey Ferrie

Legal Director

The reality is that only those operators who have the cash to invest significantly in compliance need apply

Gambling law expert Audrey Ferrie of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said: “In developing products and services, consumer protection must be at the forefront of operators' minds and plans – fairness to consumers, awareness and management of risk, an embedded culture of compliance and collaboration between operators.” 

The Commission in turn will continue to co-operate with other regulators.

“The need to balance consumer choice and the enjoyment of gambling brings with it risks to some gamblers and the wider society,” Ferrie said. “Consumers need to have confidence they will be treated fairly and protected, and current research shows that consumer confidence is low at present.”

Ferrie said it was important for both the Commission and gambling businesses to invest in technology to reflect the changing environment and use of automation.

“There will be no let-up in the Commission’s pursuit of operators they consider to be unsuitable or in breach of their licence conditions. The reality is that only those operators who have the cash to invest significantly in compliance need apply,” Ferrie said.