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The policy on managing conflicts of interest for the Gambling Commission's Advisory Board for Safer Gambling. The policy aims to maintain public trust and confidence.
Published: 1 July 2018
Last updated: 25 April 2023
This version was printed or saved on: 1 December 2023
Online version: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/policy/advisory-board-for-safer-gambling-managing-conflicts-of-interest-policy
1. The credibility and impact of the Advisory Board for Safer Gambling (ABSG) depends on the independence and objectivity of its advice to the Gambling Commission (the Commission) and on the confidence of others in its integrity. It is important therefore that ABSG members abide by agreed principles in this policy, reflecting the Nolan Principles of Public Life1.
The purpose of this policy is to explain:
2. This policy applies to the following groups of people, although the requirements and processes may be different for each:
3. The aim of this policy is to maintain public trust and confidence in the Commission and the individuals who work in and with the Commission.
4. As a statutory regulator and public body, the Commission expects those involved with it to maintain the highest standards of probity and integrity.
5. This policy is owned by the Governance team and will be reviewed annually in quarter two (July to September) to ensure it remains up to date and effective.
6. The Gambling Commission has adopted the National Audit Office’s definition of a conflict of interest:
'A conflict of interest is a set of circumstances that creates a risk that an individual’s ability to apply judgement or act in one role is, or could be, impaired or influenced by a secondary interest. The perception of competing interests, impaired judgement or undue influence can also be a conflict of interest'2.
7. Conflicts of interest can create problems for the organisation and individuals. They can:
8. Professional experience and connections can bring benefits to the work of the Commission, and often form part of the reason why an individual has been appointed to a particular role. However, they can give rise to conflicts of interest, which must be managed effectively.
9. Not every interest will result in a conflict. Conflicts of interest can change over time – meaning that an interest that did not initially represent a conflict may become one. If you are unsure whether an interest represents an issue please seek advice from the Governance team.
Acting as a trustee of a housing association is unlikely to present a conflict with Commission business, however, if that housing association were to submit a proposal to the Commission seeking regulatory settlement funds a conflict may well arise.
10. Examples of potential conflicts of interest are (this list is not exhaustive) as follows.
Financial interests in a gambling and/or lottery operator, a company supplying a gambling operator or a company who supplies the Gambling Commission, an organisation seeking work and/or funds from the Commission.
Conflicts of loyalty in which an individual’s duty to another person or organisation could prevent the individual acting solely in the best interests of the Commission.
Professional interests in concurrent work with a gambling and/or lottery operator, a company supplying a gambling operator, a company who supplies the Commission, or an organisation seeking work and/or funds from the Commission.
Standing for elected office, holding a position in a political party.
Volunteering, being a member, trustee or director of any organisation active in matters relating to gambling, or who receives funding from National Lottery and/or society lottery distributors and/or gambling operators.
Meaning conflicts arising from the interests of close family members and business relationships.
11. The relationships included in paragraph 10. 'Indirect conflicts' previously are defined as:
12. Gifts and hospitality are not dealt with within this policy. The rules relating to these issues can be found within our corporate governance framework.
13. Conflicts may be potential, actual or reasonably perceived3. All three types require management.
14. There are circumstances in which conflicts cannot be managed in such a way as to remove the influence of those conflicts or perceived conflicts on decision making by the Gambling Commission. Examples of such conflicts are (this list is not exhaustive):
15. For the purpose of this policy, a senior interest refers to positions equivalent to the level of Chief Executives, Directors, Senior Management, Trustees – whether paid or unpaid.
16. Members of Advisory Board for Safer Gambling (ABSG) should not receive any payment from gambling operators licensed in the United Kingdom (UK) or elsewhere for work undertaken.
17. ABSG and the Gambling Commission advocate that reducing gambling harms should be approached as a public health issue. ABSG members, therefore, should not receive renumeration or reimbursement of expenses for speaking at conferences which receive direct funding from the gambling industry (including sponsorship). This approach is consistent with that taken in other areas of public health.
18. There is no objection to ABSG members working on anonymised data supplied by gambling operators for the purpose of research where any potential indirect benefit to the industry is not the prime objective and where the funding, if any, does not come from the operators.
19. The Commission’s Governance team will keep a register of any such instances described previously and members will declare these on their register of interests.
20. Advisory Board for Safer Gambling (ABSG) benefits from the presence of one or more members who are, or have been, active researchers in the gambling area. There is no objection, and some advantage, to such members continuing their research activities while members of ABSG.
21. It is important, however, that ABSG members tendering for projects do not derive, nor are perceived to derive, an advantage from their role with AGSB. ABSG members, therefore, should not bid to carry out work from the research programme they had a role in advising upon.
22. ABSG has on record stated that gambling research should not be funded through voluntary contributions. Therefore, ABSG members are not expected to bid for research contracts where the source of funds is voluntary contributions from the gambling industry.
23. Care should be taken about invitations to speak at conferences or elsewhere, in responding to media enquiries and in the use of social media.
24. The Chair of Advisory Board for Safer Gambling (ABSG) is the sole public spokesperson for ABSG. If there are exceptions to this, it will be agreed with the Chair of ABSG and the Gambling Commission in advance. Consistent with the Commission’s approach to all other media and public affairs, the ABSG Chair should not accept speaking invitations or communicate in a ABSG capacity in other ways without prior mutual agreement with the Commission.
25. Other ABSG members need to be clear when speaking at conferences or elsewhere, in responding to media enquiries and in the use of social media that they are speaking in a personal capacity. They should avoid being presented in a way which could give the impression they are speaking on behalf of ABSG.
26. ABSG members should inform the Head of Advisory Groups, and through them the Commission's Communications team, about any public activities relating to gambling they are to undertake. This is for information only – the Commission will not seek to influence what ABSG members say in public in a personal capacity.
27. Advisory Board for Safer Gambling (ABSG) members are encouraged to increase their understanding of the gambling sector, including by contacts with a wide range of organisations and stakeholders. In doing so, they should maintain high standards of honesty and integrity.
28. ABSG members must not accept any gifts from the gambling sector or individuals or organisations relating to it.
29. A common-sense approach should be taken to offers of hospitality. In a number of settings, such as visits to operators, acceptance of hospitality should not be problematic. Examples may be light refreshments where these are incidental to engagement with stakeholders. The questions ABSG members should consider are whether acceptance of hospitality could be perceived to create an obligation and whether a reasonable person might think that acceptance could influence the member’s judgement in relation to a piece of advice.
30. The key principle for dealing with actual or potential conflicts of interest is integrity, as defined in the Seven Principles of Public Life 5.
31. In general, everyone covered by this policy should:
'Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial of other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.'
32. Different rules apply to different groups of people, reflecting their varied roles in the Gambling Commission’s governance structure. An overview of the types of roles and the rules that apply can be found at Annex A.
33. Managing interests and abiding by the principle of transparency is an on-going responsibility of each individual and needs active management. The Governance team maintain the Commission’s register of interests and can provide advice as needed, however it is the individual’s responsibility to ensure they are familiar with these rules on handling interests, complying with them, and ensuring their declaration of interest is accurate and up to date.
34. The purpose of a register of interests is to ensure the Commission is able to identify and manage potential conflicts. For the most senior decision-makers and advisers in the organisation their register of interests will be published on the Commission website as part of our commitment to transparency and the requirements of Cabinet Office Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies which specifies interests should be declared publicly6.
35. For individuals appointed into decision-making and advisory roles, a declaration of interests will be sought at appointment, with an annual update thereafter (usually in April).
36. For individuals who enter into a role or activity where a declaration is needed (for instance, becoming a member of a decision-making group or making a procurement decision), a declaration of interests will be sought, with annual updates required.
37. All employees and contractors are asked to identify any conflicts of interest during the recruitment process. It is the individual's responsibility to keep any declaration up to date, and the Commission will issue annual reminders to do so.
38. In recognition that interests may be acquired or may unexpectedly give rise to a conflict, decision-making meetings will have declarations of interest as a standing agenda item, allowing individuals to notify the Chair of any emerging conflict. Any declaration will be recorded in the minutes. The Chair of the meeting will decide how to manage the interest, with support of the secretariat and referring to this policy. It is the individual’s responsibility to disclose any emerging interest.
39. The action taken to manage an interest will depend on the nature of the interest and its interaction and/or potential interaction with Commission business. In the event of an unresolved conflict, the decision on how to manage it will be taken by the Accounting Officer, advised by the advisory group chair if appropriate.
40. Disputes about the proposed handling will be dealt with through review of the decision by the Chair of the Commission.
41. In all cases outlined in paragraphs 25. and 26., advice and guidance should be taken from the Governance team, People Services or General Counsel, as appropriate.
42. Failure to disclose an interest or comply with directions to effectively manage a conflict of interest may result in disciplinary action or termination of appointment.
43. In the case of incompatible conflicts (see paragraph 14. within the 'Incompatible conflicts' section), the interest must either be removed or the individual’s employment and/or appointment with the Commission must cease. The decision lies with the individuals outlined in paragraph 25., and in the event of a dispute, follows paragraph 26.
44. In recognition of the serious consequences of identifying an incompatible conflict, additions to the list at para 14. (within the 'Incompatible conflicts' section) can only be made by the Board of Commissioners with advice from General Counsel.
45. Individuals must remove themselves from discussion or determination of matters in which they, or a connected person, have a financial interest. The exception to this requirement is some decisions relating to pay and conditions, which must, on occasion, be discussed by the people affected by them. Care will be taken to ensure the risk of conflict is minimised and oversight is provided. As a minimum decisions of this type must always be recorded.
46. The requirement for an individual to remove themselves from a discussion or determination includes avoiding any procurement process where they have an interest in a potential supplier, any meeting where the issue is being discussed, and any discussion of the issue outside of meetings. If a conflict is engaged during a meeting, the meeting will halt whilst the individual leaves. The recusal should be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.
47. In matters where individuals, or connected persons, have a non-financial interest, they should declare the interest and not participate in the discussion or determination of a matter where the interest might give rise to the suggestion of bias or perceived bias.
48. In other cases, options for managing interests will vary depending on the interest and the nature of the individual’s role with the Commission. Possible responses include (this list is not exhaustive):
People Services proposing a new performance management process to the Executive Team.
Commissioners at the Remuneration Committee reviewing proposals in relation to expenses payments.
These proposals will have an impact on everyone involved in the design and decision but is an essential part of the role of the parties.
49. We will comply with United Kingdom (UK) data protection law and any other applicable legislation. To see more information on how we process your personal information, see Annex B: Privacy notice - register of personal interests.
50. We will protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of all information we process in line with our policies and procedures which can be found on the Gambling Commission’s website.
A definition of this role would be:
Can expect the highest level of scrutiny. Declarations of full interests published on The Commission's website for transparency.
Commissioners and independent committee members - Code of Conduct for Commissioners, Cabinet Office Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies (PDF) (opens in new tab) and terms and conditions of appointment.
For Commission employees - Code of Conduct for Employees and contract of employment.
A definition of this role would be providing advice to the Commission on matters of policy or strategy.
A likely role titles may include members of an advisory groups.
Can expect a high level of scrutiny. Declarations of relevant interests published on the Commission's website for transparency.
For all - Terms and conditions of appointment, Cabinet Office Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies and terms of reference of each group.
A definition of this role would be those who procure goods and services (including evaluation of procurement processes). Those who manage a contract. Those who are budget holders.
Likely role titles may include:
Relevant interests to be declared annually and when entering procurement process and/or taking on the management of a contract. Internal management.
Source of rules include contract of employment, Code of Conduct for Employees and Managing Public Money.
A definition of this role would be all Commission employees and contractors.
All Commission employees and contractors.
Relevant interests (including indirect interests) to be declared as they arise and particularly at beginning of work with the Commission, when moving to a new role within the Commission and during notice period. Internal management.
Contract of employment and Code of Conduct for Employees.
A definition of this role would be circumstances where, by virtue of the work being undertaken, there are particular demands that require specific rules in relation to conflicts of interest.
At present, those working on the 4th National Lottery Licence competition (Commission employees, contractors, Commissioners and advisers). Adjudicators as members of Regulatory Panels.
For all - Contract of employment or engagement and Code of Conduct for Employees.
For the fourth National Lottery - 4th National Lottery Licence competition Conflict of Interest (COI) policy.
For adjudicators - Adjudicator Governance Framework.
This Privacy Notice sets out how the Gambling Commission (the Commission) processes your personal information in relation to the Register of Personal Interests.
The purpose of the register is to record information about any private interests that individuals have that others may reasonably consider to conflict with their public duties.
We collect this information to protect both the organisation and the individuals involved with it to maintain the highest standards of probity and integrity.
We keep information about:
We will record the information that is provided to us on the Register of Interests form as follows:
Your information will be held on a central register of interests which will be maintained by the Governance team.
For the most senior decision-makers and advisers in the organisation, information will be published on the Commission website as part of our commitment to transparency and to meet the requirements of the Cabinet Office Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies which specifies interests should be declared publicly.
Annex A of the Managing Conflicts of Interest Policy contains information relating to which category of information will be published.
The General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 (opens in new tab) sets out the lawful bases for which personal information can be processed. The personal information that we process is done so as follows:
Article 6(1)(a) – processing is necessary for the performance of a contract.
Please see relevant Codes of Conduct.
Article 6(1)(f) – processing is necessary for the purposes of the legitimate interests pursued by the Commission for the Register of Interests to be established and maintained.
The central register of interests and completed forms, that are maintained by the Governance team will only be accessed by that team.
Where required this information will be published on the Commission’s website as set out in Annex A of the Managing Conflicts of Interest Policy.
No – but the Register of Interests is published on the Commission’s website which can be viewed from any location.
The information that we collect about you will be updated at least annually.
The details recorded on the Personal Interests Register will be removed from the Commission’s website within one month after the individual leaves their position.
Electronic records will be kept for the duration of employment and/or appointment and then for 3 years after the individual has left their position. After this time, the information will be destroyed.
Under data protection law, you have rights including:
You have the right to ask us for copies of your personal information.
You have the right to ask us to rectify personal information you think is inaccurate. You also have the right to ask us to complete information you think is incomplete.
You have the right to ask us to erase your personal information in certain circumstances.
You have the right to ask us to restrict the processing of your personal information in certain circumstances.
You have the the right to object to the processing of your personal information in certain circumstances. You are not required to pay any charge for exercising your rights. If you make a request, we have one month to respond to you.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to make a request.
If you have any concerns about our use of your personal information, you can make a complaint to us at email@example.com.
You can also complain to the ICO if you are unhappy with how we have used your data.
The Information Commissioner's Office's (ICO) address:Information Commissioner’s Office
Helpline number: 0303 123 1113.
ICO website: https://ico.org.uk (opens in new tab).