Gaming regulators sometimes become the target of animosity without warrant from certain players in the industry, as their responsibility is to ensure operators follow the rules. In the case of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), it’s also receiving attacks from the political ranks, with one lawmaker calling it “out of control.”
The UKGC has a solid track record of going after gaming operators for allegedly failing to live by its policies. Over the past few years, it has collected over $100 million in fines and penalties from companies like Entain and others.
It also repeatedly targets the creation of a more restrictive industry, sometimes asserting that consumers shouldn’t be able to decide how to spend their own money. Member of Parliament Philip Davies believes the regulator has possibly outgrown its usefulness.
Gambling Regulator Needs Gambling Knowledge
Davies laid into the UKGC following revelations the Racing Post made. The media outlet, which also provided the legislator’s colorful commentary, reported about the overzealous tactics the UKGC took against bookmaker and poker player Joe Beevers.
Not only did the regulator want Beevers to show his financial well-being, but also that of friends who may have given him payments. The UKGC asked for bank statements from all of them as part of the regulator’s attempt at controlling who spends what on gambling.
As a result of the egregious requests, Beevers closed two of his online betting accounts. However, he has plenty of other options available to him if he chooses, including some offshore platforms.
It is clear that the Gambling Commission – whose leaders know nothing about gambling – are out of control,” MP Philip Davies stated.
Davies, the vice chair of the Parliamentary All-Party Betting and Gaming Group, asserts that the regulator is out of line for wanting sensitive financial information from bettors and gamblers. He adds that the UKGC is no longer “fit for purpose,” and that it’s “out of control.”
Admittedly, Davies has a penchant for being an outspoken parliamentarian. However, he isn’t the only one to believe that the gaming regulator might need to take a different direction.
Professional gambler Harry Findlay, who wrote the book “Gambling For Life: The Man Who Won Millions And Spent Every Penny,” says the UKGC “doesn’t know what it’s doing.” In addition, the CEO of the Thoroughbred Group, Charlie Parker, thinks the regulator is “frankly bizarre.”
UKGC Not Acting in Good Faith
The lack of gambling reform at the governmental level has seemingly given the UKGC carte blanche over the gaming industry. The UK has been working on new gambling laws for the past few years but has repeatedly delayed the presentation of a new white paper that would frame gaming.
The impact of the UKGC’s actions is already being felt. Turnover on horse race betting last year dropped £800 million (US$992.48 million), according to Arena Racing Company. As a result, the sport had a £40 million (US$49.61 million) hole.
This has been a recurring trend for the past few years, as the results from 2021 support. The arrival of a cap on online slot spending at £2 (US$2.40) led to a reported loss of £1.2 billion (US$1.48 billion). iGaming operators continued to report losses last year.
Several companies have left the UK market, although without blaming the UKGC. However, it’s obvious that making a profit is becoming harder under the UKGC and has been for years.
The good news, hopefully, is that the government appears to be more gambling-friendly than the regulator. In comments officials have made regarding the pending white paper, they have said that a “commonsense approach” is coming.
They hope to find a balance between gambling as a form of entertainment and gambling harm prevention. That’s a worthwhile goal, but one the UKGC seems to ignore in favor of a prison-like atmosphere.
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