UK Gambling Commission To Launch Financial Risk Check Pilot Scheme

February 6, 2024
The UK Gambling Commission will launch a pilot scheme for financial risk checks in the “coming weeks”, according to executive director Tim Miller.

The UK Gambling Commission will launch a pilot scheme for financial risk checks in the “coming weeks”, according to executive director Tim Miller.

Miller, who is responsible for research and statistics, policy development and the national strategy for reducing gambling harms, shared the update during his speech at the World Regulatory Briefing on February 5, one of the two events that launched the ICE gambling conference. 

The gambling regulator will soon publish its next steps regarding the first round of its Gambling Act white paper consultations, which covered financial risk checks, but it is “not expecting to commence turning on new rules” for these checks in the next update.

“Fundamentally this [pilot] will be about understanding how the mechanics of these checks work, so it won't be a full evaluation of the policy, that will come further down the line. This will be about making sure that the mechanics work, the credit reference agencies can provide operators with what they need, operators can make use of the data, the information flows are working properly and the technology is all integrated,” Miller told Vixio GamblingCompliance during an interview after his speech. 

How the pilot will work has yet to be finalised but the regulator is already working on the details. 

When questioned about whether further consultations could be required, Miller said: “We are not working on the assumption that there will be more consultations”; however, the regulator is “keeping that option open if it is needed”.

“We are probably the first jurisdiction in the world trying to do something like this. We need to recognise that through a pilot phase, we will learn lots of things, there may be things we weren't expecting. If that requires us to do additional consultation that is available to us but we are not automatically assuming that there will be a need for more consultation but we will have to weigh to see what the pilot shows,” Miller said.

Discussing enforcement action, Miller said he hopes that the Gambling Commission will not continue to see an escalation of fines.

“We are seeing some positives. Yes, there have still been enforcement actions but I don't think we are seeing the same number of big systemic failings in big high-profile operators that we saw from 2016 onwards. I hope that's a sign of a positive move,” Miller said.

He credited this change with the Gambling Commission’s shift in focus to “ensure compliance at the earliest opportunity”.

“Getting upstream ahead of these things before they become big systemic failings has been welcomed, according to operator feedback,” Miller said.

However, the Gambling Commission is “absolutely alive” to the risk that some of the issues seen at big operators could be “displaced” to the next tier of operators.

“We are looking closely at operators that have seen a very significant growth in gross gambling yield (GGY) over a short period and whether that points to their approach to consumer protection and compliance not being as robust as some of the big operators that have been through our regulatory processes,” Miller said.

The Gambling Commission is also working closer with regulators in other jurisdictions as the industry becomes increasingly “internationalised”.

“The UK is tiny and as a result our importance as a regulator risks diminishing. We see this as one way of addressing that through strong relationships with regulators across North America, but it's not the only part of the work we are looking at. Over the next few days I will be meeting with people from four continents,” Miller said.

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