The UK Gambling Commission (GC) is calling out operators for emphasizing profit over compliance in its annual Compliance and Enforcement Report. In the report, commissioners slam UK operators for sloppy compliance practices, including weak practices for identifying customer risk and identities.
Throughout the report, commissioners returned to the theme of profit over compliance as a the main source of encounters between the GC and operators. The report’s authors called out the practice and issued a stark warning saying, “The reasons for these failings are almost as concerning as the failings themselves. Our casework reveals that operators are either not making suitable resources available or are simply putting commercial objectives ahead of regulatory ones. This is simply unacceptable and will be seen as such by others in the industry who work hard to achieve compliance.”
There was certainly no shortage of operator error in the time period covered by the report (2020-2021). The GC says it issued £32.1 million ($42.3 million USD) from 15 operators over the last year, a record amount. Commissioners only had to suspend the gambling licenses of one operator and nine personal management licence holders.
One particularly alarming point brought up in the report is that a lack of adherence to compliance rules is potentially a big win for terrorists and others engaged in criminal activity. The report points out that gambling operators are particularly vulnerable to this criminal element, especially when they are lax in applying compliance practices.
The report ended with a call for UK gambling operators to step up their compliance game, pandemic or no pandemic. “Whilst the threat of COVID-19 hasn’t gone away, the gambling sector has largely resumed operations. As Great Britain’s regulator for the gambling industry, we still see far too many breaches of regulations where everyone in the industry agrees we should not see them. The industry has the resources, skills and knowledge to change this.”