The House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee (PAC) released a scathing report on the performance of the UK Gambling Commission (GC) on regulating the gambling industry, labeling the regulatory body as toothless.
The PAC’s mandate is to monitor government spending. Their report “Gambling regulation: problem gambling and protecting vulnerable people“, released on June 28, stated that the GC was unable to provide adequate protections for the UK’s problem gamblers, whose numbers are estimated at roughly 400,000.
According to the PAC, the £19 million in licensing fees collected by the GC paled in comparison to the gross gambling revenues accrued by gambling operators. As a result of the disparity in funds, operators were able to outspend the GC considerably, circumvent rules on responsible gambling, and operate with near-impunity.
The GC answered the charges by listing some of the measures they enacted in the last two years to bolster player protections, such as banning credit card gambling, stricter identity and age verifications, and increased enforcement of existing rules. A GC spokesperson said they also recently created an advisory group to help the regulator focus its efforts on high-impact matters.
However, the GC admitted that they could stand to improve more in the coming years.
GC Facing Intense Public Scrutiny
The GC has faced much public scrutiny in the last year, as anti-gambling advocates ramp up their push for more gambling legalization, targeting the GC for what some claim its cozy relationship with gambling firms.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on gambling harms released an excoriating report on the GC on June 15. According to APPG, the GC is no match for the industry, and called for an immediate review of the GC’s ability to regulate online gambling.
The GC is currently working to resolve issues noted in a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) last February, which cast doubts on the GC’s ability to protect gamblers and enforce regulations.
National Audit Office
Both the NAO and the PAC acknowledged that the GC is drastically short on funds, relative to the massive budgets available to online gambling operators.
The NAO also asked the GC to provide a clearer definition of its goals with respect to protecting players in order to allow for better tracking and measurement of data. The data can then be utilized by the regulatory body to determine what initiatives are working, and what initiatives need to be retooled.