On 5 July 2017 the Gambling Commission announced the implementation of its new enforcement strategy which will be used to deal with operators who breach gambling regulations. The new strategy follows a related consultation issued earlier in the year, the Commission’s response to the consultation was published in June. Key changes include:

  • Changes to the Commission's statement on financial penalties including introducing higher penalties for breaches, particularly in respect of systemic and repeated failings;

  • Using time-limited discounts to create better incentives for early settlement; and

  • Putting all regulatory tools, including licence review, on an equal footing by removing the current bias in favour of settlement.

In respect of the last point above, a regulatory settlement is a resolution between the Commission and an operator in cases where concerns have been raised about that operator. In these instances, the Commission and the operator agree on a course of action that meets the Commission's regulatory objectives, without having to use the Commission's regulatory powers. This is distinct from the Commission using its powers to impose a statutory sanction following a licence review.

The Commission has commented that it will use "the full range of enforcement powers to ensure operators put customers first and raise standards". In particular, the Commission wishes to have these "regulatory tools at [its] disposal" to be able to use the most appropriate measure that "fits both the circumstances and severity of the breach".

The impact of this new enforcement strategy on the Commission's approach remains to be seen. However, the new strategy has been met with criticism from industry commentators, with both suppliers and operators particularly concerned at the Commission's potential shift in approach towards taking considerable enforcement action rather than using the settlement process. This concern was also voiced in a number of the stakeholder responses to the consultation.

The Gambling Commission’s announcement can be found here.

Responses to the consultation on the proposed amendments to Statement of principles and Policy statement can be found here.