The UKGC is well known as a strict and uncompromising regulator, that has been steadily increasing the scale and cost of penalties given out to gaming operators. With the outcomes of the Gambling Act Review on the horizon and motions to increase both the Commissions level of regulatory scrutiny and powers, it is more important than ever to fully understand this gaming authority to keep your business on the right side of compliance.

As part of our recent webinar on iGaming Audits, compliance expert James Harrison shared insights on the UKGC’s criteria for investigation.

Scheduled audits

Every year there is an Information Security Audit, auditing your business against the ISO 27001 standard. This is a known quantity, meaning it is scheduled into the year.

How does the UK Gambling Commission decide who to audit?

There is no fixed schedule for a compliance audit but they use a risk based approach when deciding who to investigate.

If you are a bigger operator you tend to get investigated more frequently, but there are other risk triggers that may cause an audit. For instance if the Commission receives a high volume of complaints about your operations from customers or even other third parties, or if you are subject to a police investigation, that can trigger an audit.

What are the potential outcomes of UKGC investigations?

The potential outcomes are well known with license suspensions through to financial penalties and revocations. The UKGC may impose license conditions, such as ensuring training is conducted, or requiring frequent compliance progress reports.

Recently the Commission have started putting the onus back on the individuals who are responsible for gambling operations. Those who hold PMLs within operators are being held to account for the actions of the company. Where previously individuals in positions of responsibility were able to wash there hands of compromising situations, this is no longer the case.

The UKGC has become much stricter, increasing the number of fines given out on a yearly basis. Last year fines hit an all time high of £33m. We are only in the first quarter of 2021 and fines are already totalling £10m, with more on the way. With rising hostility to the gambling industry in the UK, the Commission poses “a not insignificant risk”, which must be mitigated.

The best tactic dealing for dealing with the UKGC?

‘Honesty and openness’ is the buzzword used by the Commission and that is the way that they should be approached in all matters of compliance. Although it can be unpleasant to have to “air your dirty laundry”, honesty shows a good attitude, which will be taken into account by auditors when they decide on audit outcomes.

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