Statement of principles for licensing and regulation
3 - Principles for licensing
3.1. The Commission will apply the following principles in exercising its licensing functions under the Act.
3.2. The Commission expects applicants for licences to provide the Commission with all the information it needs in order to determine whether or not they are suitable to hold a licence.
3.3. The Commission expects that licence applications will be complete and accurate at the point they are submitted to the Commission. It follows that, whilst applicants may be permitted to make minor changes to their proposals, the Commission will not permit applicants to make material changes to their application during the process. Material changes to an application are likely to result in an applicant being invited to withdraw their application and submit a new application, accompanied by the appropriate fee, or it may result in an application being refused.
3.4. The Commission will seek to determine licence applications within a reasonable period of time.
3.5. Whilst the Commission will provide assistance to licence applicants to help them through the application process, the responsibility for providing information rests with applicants. The Commission will treat repeated delays in providing information as a strong contra-indicator of suitability to hold a licence.
Openness and cooperation
3.6. The Commission expects applicants to work with the Commission in an open and cooperative way and to disclose anything which the Commission would reasonably expect to know. The Commission will attach significant weight to an applicant’s failure to work in an open and cooperative way when considering a licence application.
3.7. Withholding information from the Commission will also be treated as a strong contra-indicator of an applicant’s suitability to hold a licence, and the Commission will not grant licences to an operator if there is doubt about their ability to provide the information the Commission needs in order to exercise its functions20.
Providing facilities for gambling in reliance on an operating licence
3.8. The Commission will not normally licence an operator unless the operator has a clear business plan which explains the operator’s plans for transacting with consumers in Great Britain or another EEA state. For example, locating remote gambling equipment in Great Britain to trigger the requirement for a licence solely in order to facilitate advertising of remote gambling to consumers in other parts of the world would not be considered a sufficient reason for the Commission to grant an application. Operators will need to satisfy the Commission that they have a genuine need to hold an operating licence.
3.9. The Commission will not issue licences to people who do not need them. If a licence is issued but an operator or individual does not provide facilities for gambling in reliance on that licence within a reasonable period, the Commission may commence a licence review with a view to revoking the licence if that appears necessary.
3.10. The Commission may grant licences (particularly remote gambling licences) subject to a condition that requires an operator to begin to offer facilities for gambling within a specified timescale.
Protecting the licensing objectives
3.11. The Commission expects licence applicants to be able to explain how the activities they plan to carry out will be conducted in a manner which minimises the risks to the licensing objectives.
The responsibility for protecting the licensing objectives
3.12. The Commission will hold an operator’s senior operational staff and directors accountable for regulatory compliance and the protection of the licensing objectives. For that reason the Commission expects licence applicants to make it clear who will fulfil those roles21 if the licence application is granted.
Separation of operational and compliance responsibilities
3.13. Where an operator is required to have Personal Management Licence holders in specified management offices, the Commission would normally expect that the person who occupies the Head of Compliance role will not also occupy one of the other specified management offices.
Failure to declare convictions
3.14. The Commission will attach significant weight to failure by a licence applicant to declare a conviction for a relevant offence22 or unspent conviction for any other offence committed by it or a person relevant to the application, in the absence of a reasonable excuse for such failure.
The relevance of criminal convictions
3.15. The Commission will determine the weight it will attach to convictions for relevant offences and unspent convictions for other offences committed by licence applicants or persons relevant to applications for operating or personal licences23 having regard to the nature and seriousness of the offence and the time which has elapsed since the offence was committed.
The opportunity to make oral representations
3.16. The Commission will provide an opportunity for licence applicants to make oral representations in appropriate circumstances24.
The suitability of local authorities to run lotteries
3.17. The Commission will assume integrity when assessing the suitability of any local authority to run a lottery25.
Confirming licensing decisions
3.18. The Commission will provide applicants and licensees with written notification of licensing and regulatory enforcement decisions, including:
- a clear explanation of the reasons on which the decision is based (in a level of detail proportionate to its impact)
- details of any appeal mechanism(s).
Publicising licensing decisions
3.19. The Commission will publish a register of licensed operators, along with regular statistical updates on its licensing work.
3.20. The Commission may also publish details of licence applications that were refused, or withdrawn before they were determined, where it considers it in the public interest to do so. Such information will normally be published 14 days after a decision has been taken, whether or not the decision is the subject of an appeal.
20 For example, if the data protection legislation in the jurisdiction from which a remote operator proposed to operate, or the regulator in that jurisdiction, prevented the operator from sharing information with the Commission, that would be a strong contra-indicator of the operator’s suitability to hold a licence.
21 The roles include the specified management offices listed in current licence condition 1.2.1.
22 A relevant offence is one listed in Schedule 7 to the Act, or certain equivalent foreign offences: see section 126(2)
23 Under section 70(9)(b) of the Act, a person is relevant to a licence application if, in particular, he is likely to exercise a function in connection with, or to have an interest in, the licensed activities.
24 The Commission’s practice in relation to the holding of oral hearings of 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.
25 This assumption is specified in accordance with section 70(7) of the Act. The Commission has not identified a class of gaming machine or other equipment in relation to which it will or may assume suitability under section 70(8) of the Act, and therefore makes no specification in that regard.
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Statement of principles for licensing - Principles for regulation
Last updated: 6 July 2023
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