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Changes to our enforcement strategy: putting the consumer first

Consultation start date: 26 January 2017

Consultation end date: 21 April 2017

The key documents which underpin our approach to enforcement are:

Statement of principles for licensing and regulation

Licensing, compliance and enforcement policy statement

Statement of principles for determining financial penalties

Guidance on decision making after a licence review (Indicative sanctions guidance).

Consultation

This consultation sets out our proposals to make changes to our enforcement strategy in order to put more emphasis on consumers who are at the core or our approach to regulation and we expect gambling businesses to put them at the core of their businesses too.

Response

Following recent changes to our licence conditions and codes of practice, we wanted to review our enforcement strategy and revise our vision for enforcement and the key policy documents which guide how we use our powers.

The key changes we proposed included:

  • putting all regulatory tools, including licence review (both of the operator and personal management licences), on an equal footing by removing the current bias in favour of settlement within our existing statement for licensing and regulation
  • changes to our statement on financial penalties including introducing higher penalties for breach, particularly where we see systemic and repeated failings
  • using time-limited discounts to create better incentives for early settlement.

Our proposals aimed to build on our experience to date, whilst maintaining the legal and procedural safeguards that have always been a feature of the regulatory framework under the Gambling Act 2005, namely:

  • the right to be informed that the Commission was commencing a licence review
  • investigatory due process, disclosure and the use of the balance of probabilities test when assessing evidence in regulatory cases
  • the opportunity for licensees to respond to the evidence and be given the opportunity for an oral hearing before decisions are made
  • a commitment to proportionate decision making and better regulation
  • the use of the most appropriate regulatory tools to deal with non-compliance
  • the right of appeal to the First Tier Tribunal.

The consultation was open for 12 weeks and we received 21 responses.

A number of key themes emerged from our analysis of some of the responses. They were:

  • Challenges to the Commission’s consumer-focussed rationale for the proposed changes: some respondents suggested that this amounted to an extension of the licensing objectives and the Commission’s regulatory authority
  • The Commission’s obligations to the industry
  • Consequences of placing settlements and licence reviews on an equal footing.

We have considered each issue raised and we have set out our position in the consultation response.

We will continue to engage and communicate with industry representative bodies, legal representatives and individual operators on this subject.

Files

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