Statement of principles for licensing and regulation
2 - General principles
2.1. The Commission will apply the following general principles in exercising its functions under the Act. These principles have been formulated with a view to ensuring that the Commission regulates gambling in line with the Regulators’ Code (opens in new tab) in a supportive, straightforward, risk-based, and transparent manner.
Regulating gambling in the public interest
2.2. The Commission regulates gambling in the interests of consumers and the wider public, having regard to, and in pursuit of, the licensing objectives in the Act. In doing so the Commission will work with licensees and other stakeholders and will ensure that it takes into account:
- the need to protect consumers and the wider public
- the need to maintain public confidence in the gambling industry and the Commission
- the importance of declaring and upholding proper standards of conduct and competence by licence holders.
Keeping the Commission’s regulatory approach under review
2.3. The Commission will keep its regulatory approach under review, and will make changes to that approach when appropriate (for example, to reflect experience or new developments).
2.4. The Commission will consult on changes to its regulatory approach where it is appropriate to do so, having regard to the Consultation Principles15 and will ensure that:
- consultation takes place when proposals are still at a formative stage
- sufficient information is provided to allow consultees to respond meaningfully
- adequate time is allowed for responses
- all responses are taken into account in reaching a final decision.
2.5. The Commission will adopt a precautionary approach when approaching new developments and interpreting evidence, where this is appropriate, having regard to its duty to promote the licensing objectives in the Act.
The Commission’s decision making processes
2.6. The Commission will ensure that licensing and regulatory decisions are properly reasoned and evidence-based16, and taken at the most appropriate level. The Commission will adopt a presumption in favour of decisions being made at the lowest appropriate level within the Commission17, so that decisions of similar complexity and impact are generally made at similar levels within the Commission.
Imposing the minimum burden necessary to promote the licensing objectives
2.7. The Commission will ensure that its regulatory approach does not impose unnecessary regulatory burdens in upholding the licencing objectives in the Act, and does not unduly hinder the economic progress of licensees.
Requests for information
2.8. The Commission will request only that information which it requires18 and will avoid duplicating requests by seeking to obtain information from government bodies (for example, the National Crime Agency (opens in new tab)) and other regulators (for example, the Office of Communications (opens in new tab), the Financial Conduct Authority (opens in new tab), and other gambling regulators) where it is possible, and appropriate, to do so.
Adopting a risk-based approach
2.9. The Commission will adopt a risk-based approach to regulation to ensure that its resources are concentrated where they are needed most and can be most effective.
2.10. The Commission will generally use the least intrusive regulatory tool to achieve compliance and will ensure that any regulatory action is proportionate to the importance of the matters to which it relates, having regard to its risk assessment.
Promoting economic growth
2.11. In deciding what action to take, and whether action should be taken at all, the Commission will have regard to the desirability of promoting economic growth and its duty to permit gambling in so far as the Commission thinks it reasonably consistent with pursuit of the licensing objectives.
2.12. The Commission will seek to provide a fair regulatory framework within which existing operators and new entrants can compete and grow with as limited a regulatory burden as is compatible with the protection of consumers, the protection of the wider public, and the upholding of the licensing objectives.
Assisting in compliance
2.13. The Commission will seek to support licensees in meeting their responsibilities through the provision of clear information, guidance and advice. However, the onus of responsibility for regulatory compliance is at all times on the licensee.
Coordinating regulatory action
2.14. The Commission will take coordinated regulatory action with government bodies and/or other regulators where it is appropriate to do so.
Aim of regulatory enforcement
2.15. Through our regulatory enforcement activity, we aim to protect consumers and the wider public, and to raise standards in the gambling industry through targeted actions that drive a culture where operators:
- act in a way that minimises the risks to the licensing objectives and reduces gambling related harm
- have due regard to the interests of consumers, treating them fairly and communicating with them in a clear way that allows them to make a properly informed judgment about whether to gamble
- work with the Commission in an open and co-operative way
- are deterred from acting in a way that does not comply with either the letter or the spirit of the regulatory framework set by the Commission.
2.16. The Commission will share information with other bodies where it is legally required to do so, and also where it considers it necessary to do so. This may, where legally permitted, include the sharing of data with relevant public authorities, overseas regulators, and law enforcement agencies in order to help the Commission perform its regulatory functions.
Enforcement of gambling contracts
2.17. The Commission expects parties to gambling contracts to take action themselves if they consider that the other party has breached the contract. The Commission will not, except in exceptional circumstances, undertake reviews where debt enforcement proceedings could be brought by the parties to a gambling contract. The outcome of such proceedings may be taken into account by the Commission if it gives rise to questions about a licensee’s suitability to hold a licence.
2.18. The Commission will treat complaints about its work seriously and will address them in accordance with its published procedures19.
15 Consultation Principles, Cabinet Office, January 2016
16 The kind of evidence to which the Commission will have regard when assessing the integrity, competence and financial or other circumstances of a licence applicant and in considering the suitability of a gaming machine or of other equipment is specified in the Licensing, Compliance and Enforcement Policy Statement. The relevant aspects of that document are incorporated into this statement by reference, in accordance with the requirements of sections 70(5) and 70(6) of the Act respectively.
17 The Commission’s practice regarding the delegation of functions in relation to licence applications is specified in its corporate Governance Policy (as amended from time to time). Those parts which deal with the grant or refusal of licence applications are incorporated into this statement by reference, in accordance with the requirements of section 73(4) of the Act.
18 The Commission’s practice in relation to evidence required or accepted in connection with licence applications is specified in the Licensing, Compliance and Enforcement Policy Statement. The relevant aspects of that document are incorporated into this statement by reference, in accordance with the requirements of section 73(4) of the Act.
19 See in particular Appendix 12 of the Gambling Commission Corporate Governance Framework (September 2015).
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Statement of principles for licensing and regulation - Principles for licensing
Last updated: 27 July 2023
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