Statement of principles for licensing and regulation
5 - Promoting the licensing objectives
5.1. The Commission expects the principles previously set out to assist the pursuit of the statutory licensing objectives in the following ways.
Preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime
5.2. The Commission’s licensing, compliance and enforcement processes are designed to prevent gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime, and will ensure that:
- only suitable applicants will be granted operating licences or personal licences
- the suitability of licence holders will be assessed on an ongoing basis as part of the Commission’s compliance activities
- compliance activity is targeted where the risks to the licensing objectives are greatest
- the suitability of licence holders will be reconsidered in the light of any subsequent criminal activity or connection with such activity.
5.3. The Commission will take a serious view of applicants and licensees who have convictions for relevant offences. Each case will be considered on its merits, but there will be a presumption in favour of refusing an application or reviewing a licence in such cases.
5.4. The Commission will examine the corporate control structures and ownership of operators to enable the Commission to identify and satisfy itself of the integrity of controllers of companies26 and others relevant to the operation of gambling.
5.5. The Commission will provide advice of a general nature about compliance to licensed operators and potential operators.
5.6. The Commission will provide guidance to local licensing authorities and to British Police Forces.
5.7. The Commission will make available general advice to the public on what activities are permissible without a licence.
5.8. The Commission will employ staff with the necessary skills and knowledge and will delegate to them the necessary powers they need to carry out licensing, compliance, and enforcement functions.
5.9. In relation to the prevention, investigation, and prosecution27 of offences under the Act, and other offences related to gambling, the Commission will give priority, based on the level of risk posed to the licensing objectives, to:
- crimes in which gambling is an intrinsic element, for example illegal gambling
- financial crimes which operators should seek to prevent, such as money laundering offences under the Proceeds of Crime Act (opens in new tab)
- crimes which affect the outcome of gambling for other participants.
5.10. Although the Commission will focus on crimes within the Act, rather than those unrelated to the Act such as burglary of gambling-licensed premises or theft by employees, the Commission may have an interest in the outcome of such investigations if they raise issues of relevance to the continuing suitability of persons licensed by the Commission. In appropriate cases the Commission may separately commence a review of the licence.
5.11. The Commission will seek to build and maintain good liaison and working relationships with local authorities, other regulators, and law enforcement bodies. The Commission will work closely with licensing authorities, other law enforcement agencies and other regulators to share relevant information and, where appropriate, investigate offences.
5.12. While the Commission recognises that licensing authorities will have the principal role in ensuring that premises based gambling is not a source of disorder, the Commission will also have a key role in this and will advise licensing authorities on the responsibilities that they have in relation to premises licensing. Where the Commission becomes aware that there are problems arising from disorder at gambling premises, the Commission may decide to commence a review of the licence.
Ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way
5.13. The Commission expects that not only is gambling fair in the way it is conducted/provided, but that the rules are transparent to players and they know what to expect.
5.14. The Commission will ensure that the rules are fair and that easily understandable information is made readily available by operators to consumers about, for example: the rules of the game, the probability of losing or winning, and the terms and conditions on which business is conducted.
5.15. The Commission will ensure that operating and personal licences are issued only to those who are suitable to offer gambling facilities or work in the industry.
5.16. The Commission will seek to ensure that appropriate advertising codes continue to be in place to prevent consumers from being misled.
5.17. The Commission will require operators to make public the results of events and competitions in relation to which commercial gambling takes place.
5.18. The Commission will ensure that the licences it issues, together with the licence conditions it imposes and the codes of practice it publishes, set appropriate standards of conduct for licence holders (for example, in respect of the terms on which gambling is offered and the transparency of such terms) and appropriate technical standards for gaming machines and other equipment used in connection with any licensed activity.
5.19. In the event of non-compliance, the Commission will ensure that sanctions are imposed, or other appropriate steps taken, which, among other things, deter future non-compliance on the part of the relevant licence holder and other licence holders more generally.
5.20. The Commission will ensure that the investigation and prosecution28 of offences under the Act, including the offence of cheating under section 42 of the Act, are prioritised by reference to the level of risk posed to the licensing objectives and the impact on consumers.
Protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling
5.21. The Commission has issued and will from time to time revise its guidance to licensing authorities about how they can ensure that gambling premises are managed in such a way that access by children can be prevented.
5.22. The Commission has issued and will from time to time revise a code about access to casino premises in accordance with section 176, and will require persons operating casinos to take measures, such as supervision of entrances and training of staff, to prevent access by children and young persons.
5.23. The Commission will require persons operating remote gambling to ensure that there are adequate age verification measures in place to prevent children and young persons gambling on their sites.
5.24. The Commission will work with the Committee of Advertising Practice (opens in new tab) (CAP) and the Broadcasting Committee of Advertising Practice (opens in new tab) (BCAP) to develop advertising codes on gambling and will ensure that these are backed by effective enforcement action if those codes are breached.
5.25. The Commission will ensure that marketing practices (including advertising and inducements) do not exaggerate the chances of winning or encourage players to gamble more than they can afford or want to.
5.26. With regard to ‘vulnerable persons’, whilst the following list is not exhaustive, the Commission considers that this group will include:
- people who spend more money and/or time gambling than they want to
- people who gamble beyond their means
- people who may not be able to make informed or balanced decisions about gambling, for example because of health problems, learning disability, or substance misuse relating to alcohol or drugs.
5.27. Although the Commission’s role does not, for example, extend to treatment or care of those who have gambling problems, the Commission does have an interest in keeping up to date with developments and trends in work of that kind.
5.28. The Commission will issue codes that include social responsibility requirements, setting out minimum requirements and outcomes for operators, and ordinary code provisions which set out good practice. Operators may adopt alternative approaches to those set out in ordinary code provisions if they have actively taken account of the provisions and can demonstrate that an alternative approach is reasonable in the operator’s particular circumstances, or that to take an alternative approach would be acting in a similarly effective manner.
5.29. The Commission will work with other bodies to build and maintain knowledge about problem gambling and the measures that may be taken to reduce the prevalence of problem gambling and will secure regular prevalence data on gambling participation and problematic gambling behaviour.
5.30. The Commission will normally rely on external research but may find it helpful to carry out, or commission, applied research on the effectiveness of particular measures, both before they are implemented and to monitor how effective they are in practice. In interpreting the available evidence, the Commission will take a precautionary approach. For example, caution may be justified where evidence is mixed or inconclusive, and the Commission would not want to restrict its discretion by requiring conclusive evidence that something was unsafe before taking measures to restrict it.
5.31. The Commission’s focus will be on identifying best practice in protecting vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by gambling, and, where appropriate, placing requirements on operators to put particular measures in place and to monitor their compliance. Compliance will be kept regularly under review, with activity by the Commission targeted where the risks to the licensing objectives are greatest.
5.32. In the event of non-compliance, sanctions may be imposed which, among other things, are intended to deter future non-compliance on the part of the relevant licence holder and other licence holders more generally.
5.33. The Commission will also give priority to the investigation and prosecution30 of offences under the Act – including those offences relating to children under sections 46, 47 and 51 to 57 of the Act – where appropriate, based on the level of risk posed to the licensing objectives and the impact on consumers.
26 Within the meaning of section 422 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (opens in new tab)
27 In Scotland the power to prosecute offences rests with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, to whom the Commission can refer the results of an investigation.
28 In Scotland the power to prosecute rests solely with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, to whom the Commission can refer the results of an investigation.
Statement of principles for licensing - Principles for regulation
Last updated: 23 May 2023
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