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IoL Annual Conference 2023 - Kay Roberts and Danielle Trigg speeches

16 November 2023

This speech was delivered by executive director of operations Kay Roberts and acting director of licensing Danielle Trigg at the Institute of Licensing (IoL) Conference on 16 November 2023.

Please note: This is the speech as drafted and may slightly differ from the delivered version.

Thank you everyone. I am Kay Roberts, Executive Director for Operations at the Gambling Commission. The Commission really values our strong working relationship with the Institute of Licensing and Local Authorities who share responsibility for licensing gambling with us across Great Britain. If anything, that is even more pertinent for the Operations Directorate, so it is great to be here speaking to you all today.

It has been said before but at the Commission we really value the relationships with our partners in regulation and it is something we take very seriously indeed. And as a result, I am pleased to say that besides myself here today, I am supported in this session by my colleague and Acting Director of Licensing Danielle Trigg and I am also pleased to share that that our fantastic colleagues Andy Isaacs and Rob Burkitt are also here talking to you all, answering questions and holding a drop-in session later on too.

Today, before I hand over to Dan, I would like to spend a few minutes discussing why our relationship with Local Authorities is so important and why we value the dual regulatory model so much.

I will highlight a few areas of focus we would like to continue working with you on in the coming year and I will also give you a quick overview of the Gambling Act Review and quickly cover a few of the areas for implementation of the Government’s White Paper that may be of interest to you.

Finally, I will highlight a few of the areas we are working on at the Commission to improve the service we provide to gambling companies which eventually we hope will lead to benefits for everyone involved in or affected by the gambling industry here in Great Britain. But first, let’s talk about how we work together and why.

The dual regulatory model, as laid out in the Gambling Act 2005 is at the heart of how gambling in Great Britain is regulated. Both the Commission and local authorities are given powers under the Act to issue licences, to levy fees and have significant enforcement powers. We have those powers at a national level, you as Local Authorities at the local level.

We are a partnership, and it is only through working together that we can make gambling safer, fairer and crime free across Great Britain and up and down the High Street.

The Commission of course is not responsible for the way that each Local Authority carries out their duties under the Gambling Act. We offer guidance and support and are always happy to advise a Local Authority on their activities. And we can and do support your licensing and compliance efforts on the ground. However, we do not have a role in your regulation of gambling within your areas.

But what we do really appreciate is the efforts so many of you put in to supply us with data through your submissions to our Annual Returns. This last year over 95 percent of Licensing teams at Local Authorities provided their returns to us – a staggeringly high number and I want to thank you all for doing so. The more data we collect and the more feedback we receive from you, the better we can support you, and the better gambling regulation will become and in turn, the safer and fairer gambling will become for people across Great Britain.

And it is through your feedback and working with you so closely, that has led to colleagues organising an online training event for Local Authority Licensing Officers. The event will be taking place in January and if you want to know more, please speak to Rob later.

We are now working flat out to push out another round of consultations later this month. They will include consultations on the following areas:

  • socially responsible incentives which is something you may wish to take a look at when it is published

  • customer-led tools, including things like deposit limits

  • timing of regulatory returns, helping the Commission capture more timely data

  • customer funds transparency measures and;

  • removal of Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice RET provisions: This is in support of Government’s consultation on a Statutory Levy, which will be used going forwards to fund Research, Education and Treatment of gambling harms. So, this is about removing our own rules about donations that would otherwise potentially risk causing confusion and duplicating what Government brings in. It is not about the Commission turning away from this important work.

The Commission will be publishing plenty of information on our work to implement the Government’s White Paper as we go so, I recommend keeping an eye on our website as things progress. And of course, if you are not already, do sign up to the Licensing Authority (LA) Bulletin for updates too.

The Commission is not just working to implement change through the implementation of the Gambling Act Review though. Another area of change is what we call Operational Transformation. That is where I and my team are delivering a programme of improvements at the Commission, to what we do in Licensing, Compliance and Enforcement. And I am pleased to say our efforts over the last year are already showing encouraging results:

  • we have united the three core teams into one operational function, aligning our work more closely than ever before,

  • as I have said, we have set up the improvement programme,

  • quarter 1 next year we are introducing modern technology to unite the core operational functions into one digital customer journey. We will be increasing the use of data and insights to better identify areas of risks, trends, and systemic issues.

  • we have begun to increase Industry engagement, through direct conversations, engagement sessions and visits. And we have begun developing a new Account Management framework, holding a couple of successful Workshops so far this year.

What is more, we are:

  • redesigning our service, improving operator experience and workflows to promote ‘compliance at the earliest’ opportunity

  • reviewing how we communicate with operators and others

  • and we have increased focus on developing knowledge, skills, and capabilities for the future through things like Industry secondments.

I am sure you will agree we are well on our way to improving how we do things in Operations at the Commission and over the long term I think this will see benefits for many of our key stakeholders, including Local Authorities.

So, that’s an overview of where we at the Commission see things right now and how we are moving forwards but now I want to hand over to my brilliant colleague, Dan Trigg to give you an insight in to what we’re doing in Licensing, how this might help and impact on your work and also to discuss some of the help and support the Commission is providing to Local Authorities already, to help you regulate gambling where you are.

Danielle Trigg's Speech

Thank you, Kay, and as Kay said, thank you everyone for being here. It is great to be here representing the Commission at what is a key moment for us to engage with you as Licensing Authorities each year. It is great to see so many of you here and so I would like to thank the Institute of Licensing for inviting us to speak to you today.

Kay has done a great job laying out the big picture as it were, so I am going to focus on giving you my thoughts on how we can support you on the ground and likewise how we rely on you in turn. As Kay explained we’re on a journey of continuous improvement in the Commission’s Operations team and so I will highlight some of the of the work we’ve been doing on licence applications and how we can make it a quicker and less painful exercise. I will also talk a bit more about what else we have done to improve the service we offer to operators whether it be through more direct accountability or how we look at the customer journey. But first let’s discuss a bit further the vital role of how we work together through the dual regulatory model that we have for gambling in Great Britain.

Many of you will be aware of the support we can offer you already but if you are newer to gambling regulation or weren’t aware of what we can offer you, I’d like to start by mentioning what we can provide you with:

  • our LA Bulletin is still going strong. Sent out each quarter, it covers all the important news and content that all Local Authorities Licensing teams need to be aware of. If you don’t already get it make sure to contact us and we will add you to the list

  • as part of the LA Bulletin but also available on our website, are quick guide resources for lots of issues and policy areas that will impact your work. In fact our website has a dedicated area just for Licensing authorities which if you haven’t spent much time on I’d encourage you to check out

  • we also provide inspection templates to support your compliance activity on the ground

  • and again through our colleagues, like Rob here today, we provide support and answers direct to Local Authorities on a daily basis. So if you ever have a question you need our help with, get in touch with our Contact Centre through the website and we will come back to you.

Now my day to day at the Commission is Licensing. So it is brilliant to be in a room with so many people who share the same headaches and deal with the same issues as I do!

Applying for a licence of course is never at the top of anyone’s list of how to have a good time but it is absolutely vital for so many regulated sectors and making sure applicants do it right is an incredibly important role that we all do. But we do genuinely want to also make sure that the process is still as quick and efficient as possible for operators.

So over the last few months we in the Licensing focus at the Commission have reviewed Operator feedback around customer journey and response times and we have started to look at our ‘as is’ processes as a result to see if we there is an opportunity to change to a more customer centric approach.

And so far we have already had a positive impact.

In the first instance we have been focusing on performance and in particular:

  • response times

  • quality of application reviews

  • looking at first contact resolution and

  • case worker and management support/investment. 

We have also been changing how we look at accountability. We have implemented a buddy system so Operators feel like they have a contact when reviewing their applications, supplying information or just contacting us.  

And this plays into our work on the Customer journey mindset. And what I mean by this is that we are trying to be more mindful and focused on how our requests can impact Operators. How can we look at our internal processes that impact response times, keeping everyone informed along the application process and making it as smooth as possible. So simple things like making sure we are only asking for relevant information, or looking at how we can make quick system changes in order to streamline processes.

There is still a long way to go but I am pleased to say we have received positive feedback from Operators and have already seen:

  • the average number of days an operator has to wait to complete a licence application significantly reduced.
    • with an 18 percent decrease for new operator licences
    • a 60 percent decrease for variation of operator licence applications
    • and what’s more, 64 percent decrease in the time it takes to get a change of corporate control completed.

I appreciate these numbers might not mean a lot to you on the face of it, but you all know how busy your teams are and the same is true of the Commission. And as it is at the Commission, anywhere we can be more efficient whilst still delivering the same if not better-quality service is a win. Especially if it also leads to a better service for those who rely on you for it. For the Commission that’s already helping to support our efforts to have a more constructive relationship with gambling companies. And through those more constructive and collaborative relationships, it is another way we’re making progress to make gambling safer, fairer and crime free.

So that covers everything we wanted to update you on today. It has been a pleasure to have the opportunity to talk to you and I, Kay, Rob and Andy are looking forward to your questions.

Thank you.

Last updated: 20 November 2023

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