The UK Gambling Commission is "on-track" to publish the first round of white paper consultations before “schools break up in the summer” in late July, according to executive director Tim Miller.
Additionally, the regulator is “reasonably happy” with the resources the government has pledged to help implement changes in the Gambling Act white paper, Miller said during a CMS webinar on Monday (June 5).
The consultations expected to be published this summer will include those covering financial risk checks, which is “probably the most significant thing”, according to Miller, who added that the regulator still wants to “bring a balance” between “meatier and smaller subjects”, such as data protection and “things that may be deregulatory in nature".
“Our consultations will be focused on how to implement things in the white paper. We won’t be framing them to allow for the opening of debates. The white paper has in most areas set a public policy position and we are not looking to change that,” Miller said.
Discussing the current implementation of financial risk checks, also known as affordability checks, following concerns raised by attendees, Miller said that the “threshold suggested in the white paper in some instances is probably less restrictive than what some operators have already chosen to apply”.
"Clarity on this issue should create a more level playing field. The current rules and guidance are in force, without consulting further we can't change that,” Miller said.
Before the white paper consultations are published, the Gambling Commission will release its response to a previous consultation relating to the guidance on the new customer interaction requirements for remote operators.
Key to the regulator's ability to undertake the consultations and a whole range of future regulatory work in a timely and effective manner is the additional funding pledged to it by the government.
The Gambling Commission is continuing conversations with the government to ensure that it has “the resources and powers we need as a regulator”, Miller said, adding that “it is clear the white paper [makes] commitments on that, we need to make sure they happen”.
When asked about how long the changes in the white paper will take to implement, Miller said it was dependent on an individual’s view on what implementation means, as various proposed changes could require “years” of impact evaluation to avoid any unintended consequences.
This approach represents part of the regulator’s new ambition to “hard wire evaluation” into its consultation process, which has seen the establishment of a standalone evaluation fund.
Separately, during the webinar, Rank Group CEO John O'Reilly said he had just come from a meeting with Stuart Andrew, the parliamentary under secretary of state for sport, gambling and civil society, and minister for equalities.
Although O'Reilly could not “pass on any nuggets” from the meeting, he did say that Andrew and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) are “listening and debating the details of what will be in their consultations”.
“Still a lot of devil is in the detail. Machine allocations, spacial considerations, what constitutes table gaming space, there is a lot in the detail that will come out in the consultations. Lots of hard work has been done. Still, a lot to work through. The minister seems keen to get implemented as soon as possible,” said O'Reilly.
When asked about how he would rate the white paper, O'Reilly scored it a nine out of ten.
“In terms of setting the framework for consultations, I think it's a top piece of work. I say that knowing that 80 percent of my business is land-based. It met the objective of equalising land-based and online gambling pretty well. It was a pretty sensible outcome,” O'Reilly said.