The UK Parliament’s All-Party Betting & Gaming Group (APBGG) has extended the deadline of its inquiry into the competence and effectiveness of the regulator of British gambling, the Gambling Commission (UKGC). Overwhelmed by the volume and severity of the evidence submitted, the Group has extended the deadline for submissions from the October 31st to December 1st 2021.
The inquiry was initiated due to the APBGG receiving so many criticisms of the regulator from members of the industry that comments made about the UKGC in the reports issued by the Public Accounts Committee, National Audit Office and House of Lords Select Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry in 2020 did not cover the full breadth of the allegations made against it. The results of the independent investigation into the collapse of Football Index further compounded their view that the UKGC is definitely not as ‘world beating’ as the regulator regularly likes to claim.
The APBGG invites all UK licensed operators and their advisers who haven’t yet done so, to visit the website (www.apbgg.org) and submit any evidence they have of the Gambling Commission acting in a way they feel is unacceptable of an industry regulator. The APBGG have categorised the types of complaint that may be submitted:
- Where it is felt that the Gambling Commission has acted Ultra Vires – or beyond the powers of a regulator.
- Where it is felt that the Gambling Commission has acted in breach of the Regulators Code – a code of conduct for industry regulators enforced by the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006.
- Where it is felt that the Gambling Commission has provided to the industry a level of service that is either of poor quality and/or incompetently delivered to a level that brings into question its ability to adequately function.
The website provides examples of allegations made against the UKGC. The APBGG is particularly concerned that members of the industry may be too scared to publicly criticise the UKGC due to its power over them. The APBGG is therefore providing a platform for criticisms and complaints to be made anonymously. Industry members will have to declare themselves on their submissions so that the APBGG can verify their veracity, but all submissions will then be anonymised. Anyone who submits evidence will be able to view the report pre-publication to confirm their comfort in the level of anonymity provided.
Once again, the new deadline for submissions is December 31st 2021 and the APBGG shall then present its findings to the Department of Culture, Media & Sport’s Review of the Gambling Act.
Scott Benton MP, Co-Chair of the Parliamentary APBGG said: “We have been shocked by two things since we launched this investigation, the sheer scale and severity of evidence that has been submitted to us and the abject terror that the industry has of recriminations by the regulator. Many of our efforts so far have been of assuring operators and their advisors of their anonymity. Without wishing to pre-judge the outcome of our investigation it does appear that this regulator has not been acting like any normal regulator for quite some time.”
The APBGG was set up by a group of parliamentarians, who had taken part in the numerous debates on what would become the Gambling Act 2005. They wished to continue their interest in the British gambling industry and have over the years become respected as some of the most knowledgeable parliamentarians on the subject. The Group maintains a view that gambling should be legal and well-regulated but beyond that, encompasses a wide spectrum of beliefs into the extent and scope of gambling provision that should be allowed. Above all the Group wishes to engage with the stakeholders in the UK gambling industry, learn from them to educate the debate, while maintaining an independence of views.