Notification of an assessment
If you are required to take part in a compliance assessment, we will normally send you a formal notification by letter. However, we will conduct unannounced assessments where it is appropriate.
Where an unannounced assessment is conducted our staff will always identify themselves when they arrive and show their Gambling Commission identification. Should you have any concerns over the legitimacy of an individual please call our Contact Centre on 0121 230 6666.
Where an assessment is announced the notification letter will provide the following details:
- date and time of the assessment
- key persons required to attend
- how the assessment will be conducted, which could include a site visit or assessment via video conferencing technology
- information that we require in advance of the assessment
- we may conduct a thematic assessment by questionnaire.
Preparation for the assessment
Before the assessment is conducted, we will:
- agree and communicate an agenda for the assessment, which may be subject to change depending on assessment findings
- request key policies and procedures
- request other key documents, where appropriate
- conduct open-source checks in relation to your gambling business, which may include reviewing advertising and promotions.
- request access to a test account which would allow us to view your website behind the sign in screen
- we may conduct a review of any online gambling products that you promote
- where appropriate, we may conduct unannounced on-site premises visits.
You should confirm your attendance at the assessment, and we would expect that the times and dates are followed, unless there is significant reason for a change.
Our assessments are conducted on the basis of ‘show me, don’t tell me’.
We want you to demonstrate to us how your business is compliant, rather than providing verbal explanations. You should be prepared to show us evidence of how procedures work in practice.
The type of assessments that we will conduct include:
- full assessment
- targeted assessment
- thematic assessment.
A full assessment is an in-depth review of your business's compliance with the licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP).
A full assessment will typically consist of:
- a website review
- marketing and advertising review
- interviews with key persons
- a review of key policies and procedures and controls and how they are implemented in practice. Including anti-money laundering and safer gambling
- a review of a sample of customer accounts.
A full assessment will usually require attendance of your staff for 3 to 5 days, depending on the size and complexity of your business. Details of daily attendance will be agreed with our staff prior to the assessment.
A targeted assessment will focus on one or more specific areas of your business and will not cover all requirements of the LCCP.
However, if failings are discovered during a targeted assessment, we may review the wider business and conduct a full assessment. A targeted assessment will often be a follow-up to a full assessment to check improvements have been put in place.
A targeted assessment will generally take 1 to 3 days and will cover some of the elements detailed for a full assessment.
We may conduct thematic assessments where we are assessing one or more specific elements of your business.
Typically, this type of exercise will include a number of licensees and will be a very specific assessment.
We may conduct this type of assessment using some of the elements of a full assessment, or we may conduct this by way of questionnaire or discussion with key persons.
This type of assessment may be conducted where we wish to test the implementation of new LCCP requirements, or where we are looking to test the level of compliance for specific elements of a business.
This type of assessment will usually take no more than a day.
Key concerns or good practice will be highlighted by our staff during the assessment. We aim to communicate the key findings of the assessment in a letter, within 14 days of the completion of the assessment. The letter will notify the outcome of the assessment and what happens next.
There are 3 outcomes from an assessment:
- no follow up required
- improvement notice
- consideration of regulatory action.
No follow up required
You will receive this letter following an assessment where there are no issues, or very minor issues identified.
You will receive this letter following an assessment where we have identified serious failings, but we are assured that there is no risk of consumer harm or significant risks to the licensing objectives. We must have confidence that you are able to put these things right at pace. You will be given a maximum of 3 months, although depending on the issue we may give you significantly less than 3 months, to become compliant. We will reassess these areas after 3 months.
Consideration of regulatory action
Where we have identified breaches of our LCCP and there is evidence of consumer harm or risk of consumer harm, or there are risks to the licensing objectives, you will receive this letter. This letter means that we are considering whether the issues identified are sufficiently serious to open a regulatory investigation.
The outcome of that investigation may include suspension of your personal or operating licence, a review of your licence or a financial settlement. Other less formal action such as placing you in ‘special measures’ or issuing a warning may also be appropriate.
To increase the tools available to us and to ensure swift interventions with failing licensees we have been piloting a ‘special measures’ scheme. The aim of this process is to raise standards immediately under strict supervision. Where licensees are being considered for regulatory action, we may consider special measures and notify you that it is an option. Special measures is an opportunity to achieve compliance before formal action. Failure to achieve compliance during the special measures process would lead to a regulatory investigation.
Special measures is only appropriate if:
- there is an acceptance of failings
- we have a high level of confidence that a licensee can become compliant quickly, and they have demonstrated this during the assessment
- actions which mitigate the risks to the licensing objectives and consumer harm are put in place immediately
- there isn’t a history of protracted non-compliance
- there isn’t evidence of significant consumer harm
- there is an offer to divest any profit made from non-compliance.
Reactive compliance enquiries
Where we have received information or have concerns which suggest that a licensee may have fallen below the standards expected, we will conduct further enquiries.
This will also include compliance assessments undertaken by Local Authorities that are referred to the Commission. This may be through formal information requests or through targeted compliance assessments.
We have powers to make formal information requests and licensees will be expected to provide full responses within the deadline provided.
Last updated: 9 September 2021
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