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Consultation response

Licensing, Compliance and Enforcement Policy: Consultation Response

This response sets out our position in relation to the consultation around proposed changes to our Licensing, Compliance and Enforcement Policy.

Proposal 15: Regulatory settlements

Proposal

New paragraph for insertion after current paragraph 5.33

The process of regulatory settlement is intended to produce a rapid and fair disposal of a case. Accordingly, regulatory settlements should be offered at an early stage in the process. The Commission will not normally accept offers of regulatory settlements offered after the licensee has made representations on the Commission’s preliminary findings. 

Consultation question

    Q19. To what extent do you agree with the proposal?

Respondents’ views

The majority of respondents agreed with the proposed amendment. Respondents commented as follows:

  • a need for greater transparency around calculation of penalties and/or settlement amounts, acceptance criteria and timescales for decision
  • the need to balance consumer wellbeing as a primary consideration
  • the amendment being contrary to furtherance of gambling as a statutory objective
  • is not in the interests of fairness to preclude representations before a settlement offer
  • settlements should be permitted at any time with mitigation being given to earlier settlements made and reflected in a discount
  • affording the licensee a chance to fully understand the Commission’s case and evidence before submitting a settlement offer, particularly if there has been a further preliminary findings letter issued.

Those who supported the amendment felt the current regime works well and is well organised. Observations did suggest that the drafting could be improved to reflect that it is not the nature of the settlement route to operate as a commercial negotiation.

Our position

We introduced settlements to provide alternative resolution to reviews which can be lengthy and complex. We sought to recognise constructive early engagement and mitigation of issues to the benefit of consumers, the licensee and the Commission. We have already published guidance which covers what criteria will be assessed in making decisions on Regulatory Settlements.

The Commission does not invite, nor negotiate settlements. If a licensee wishes to submit a settlement the Commission up until now has been duty bound to consider it, irrespective of the stage submitted however our view that settlement is a privilege and not a right remains.

We will continue to consider settlements until the representation window post issuance of preliminary findings concludes. We note that within the review process, the licensee will have had multiple opportunities to engage with the Commission and provide information to us and understand our position.

If the licensee can clearly demonstrate factual inaccuracies in the Commission’s position, this ought to be contained with the settlement offer to explain why parts of our findings may not be accepted. If a further preliminary finding is issued by the Commission, the clock would be reset to the last preliminary findings. The Commission will maintain its position of not negotiating settlements but detailed reasons for decisions, whether acceptance or rejection will continue to be provided within this revised timeframe.

The Commission will therefore proceed with the amendment.

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Proposal 14: Suspension
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