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Licensing, compliance and enforcement under the Gambling Act 2005

The Commission’s approach to risk underpins its licensing, compliance and enforcement functions.

  1. Contents
  2. 7 - Publicity

7 - Publicity

Openness and transparency are central to the Commission’s work in upholding the licensing objectives. Publication of details of the Commission’s work in licensing, compliance and enforcement plays an important role in improving compliance in and beyond the licensed community, and in increasing confidence in the Commission as a regulator.

Publicity in relation to licensing and compliance

As part of its efforts to be more transparent, the Commission will publish a register of companies and individuals who hold, or have applied for, operating licences in Great Britain. We also publish the names of companies or individuals whose licences have lapsed, been revoked, forfeited, expired, suspended or surrendered in the last three years.

In order to increase awareness of its compliance work in the licensed community and the wider public, the Commission will publish updates annually. Those updates will include information about a variety of matters, including the number of licence applications made and the number of compliance visits undertaken.

General approach to publicity in enforcement cases

In making decisions on publicity in enforcement cases, the Commission will at all times bear in mind the public interest, as well as the rights of individuals to a fair hearing, and the right to privacy enshrined in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (opens in new tab). This means that the Commission will limit the release of information about on-going criminal or regulatory investigations, only releasing details when it has determined it is in the public interest to do so. This protects the integrity of investigations and protects individuals or operators from being unfairly associated with unsubstantiated allegations.

This means that the Commission will only announce publicly that it is investigating a matter in exceptional circumstances; it will only make such an announcement if it considers it is desirable to:

  • maintain public confidence in the gambling industry or the regulation thereof
  • protect players
  • prevent or deter widespread malpractice
  • help the investigation itself, for example by bringing forward witnesses
  • maintain the smooth operation of the gambling industry.

In deciding whether to make an announcement, the Commission will consider the potential prejudice that it believes may be caused to any individuals or operators who are, or who are likely to be, a subject of the investigation.

The exceptional circumstances referred to above may arise where the matters under investigation have become the subject of public concern, speculation or rumour. In this case it may be desirable for the Commission to make public the fact of its investigation in order to allay concern, or contain any speculation or rumour.

The Commission will not normally publish details of the information found or conclusions reached during its investigations while they are ongoing. In many cases, restrictions on the disclosure of information obtained by the Commission in the course of exercising its functions are likely to prevent publication.

In exceptional circumstances, and where it is not prevented from doing so, the Commission may publish details. Circumstances in which it may do so include those where the fact that the Commission is investigating has been made public, by the Commission or otherwise, and the Commission subsequently concludes that the concerns that prompted the investigation were unwarranted. This is particularly so if the operator or individual under investigation wishes the Commission to clarify the matter.

Regulatory enforcement

As noted previously, while regulatory investigations including licence reviews are ongoing, the Commission will not ordinarily publicise that fact.

However, once a formal regulatory decision has been taken, such as the imposition of a financial penalty, the issuing of a warning, the suspension or revocation of a licence, or the agreement of a regulatory settlement the Commission will ordinarily publish all such decisions in full, even if a decision is subject to review or appeal. Such publication will take place 14 days after a decision has been taken.

Criminal enforcement

The Commission will normally publicise the outcome of public hearings in criminal prosecutions.

When conducting a criminal investigation the Commission will generally consider making a public announcement when suspects are arrested, when search warrants are executed and when charges are laid. A public announcement may also be made at other stages of the investigation when this is considered appropriate.

The Commission will always be very careful to ensure that any publicity does not prejudice the fairness of any subsequent trial.

Removal of notices

As stated previously, publicity is important to ensure the transparency of the Commission’s decision-making; it informs the public and helps to maximise the deterrent effect of enforcement action. Notwithstanding that, the Commission will upon request review any compliance or enforcement-related notices that are published on the Commission's website. The Commission will determine at that time whether continued publication is appropriate, or whether such notices should be removed or amended.

In carrying out its review the Commission will consider all relevant factors. In particular, the Commission will take into account:

  • the seriousness of the failures
  • the nature of the action taken by the Commission and the level of any sanction imposed
  • whether the Commission has continuing concerns in respect of the operator or individual and any risk they might pose to the licensing objectives
  • whether the publicity concerns an operator or an individual
  • whether the publication sets out the Commission’s expectations regarding behaviour in a particular area
  • whether that message still has educative value and the public interest in the case (both at the time and subsequently)
  • whether continued publication is necessary for deterrence or consumer protection reasons
  • how much time has passed since publication
  • any representations made by the individual or operator on the continuing impact on them of the publication.
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6 - Criminal enforcement
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