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The UK Gambling Commission

The UK Gambling Commission was established in 2007 as an executive non-departmental public body of the United Kingdom Government who are responsible for regulating and supervising the oversights and laws that are passed within gaming law.

Prior to the Commission, it was the Gaming Board for Great Britain who was the main gatekeepers of the industry and had responsibility for arcades, betting, casino, bingos, slot machines, and lotteries. It was perhaps the rise of online slots gaming that created the necessity for an official gambling commission for the country with them taking over online, telephone and other communication device gambling that’s based within the Great British territories.

Sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media, Sport the Commission have since taken on responsibility for the National Lottery.

Aims and Objectives

The various aims and objectives of the commission seem rather self-explanatory, but this is the case with many governmental bodies, and it’s not always as simple as that. The commission strives to keep crime out of gambling and ensure that the industry is conducting itself in a fair and open way that protects the interests of both children and the vulnerable.

  • The commission has all the power within the industry. It can grant or revoke licenses at a click of their fingers and is also the power behind the clamp down on illegal gaming and prosecuting this sort of malpractice.
  • The commission adheres to the Gambling Act of 2005 and aids and advises local and national government on issues within the industry and what the best action to proceed is

The Intelligence department

Encouragingly, there’s also a covert branch of the commission who act as their very own intelligence agency, a gambling MI5 if you will. The intelligence department of the commission often submerge themselves in areas of the industry believe to be acting illegally and gather information or evidence relating to the alleged crimes at bay. It’s not unusual for the commission to collaborate with various police constabularies to stamp out the illegal operations. Intel is essentially the feet on the ground for the gambling commission and acts as public gatekeepers of the industry.

Criticisms and controversies

As always, it’s natural for governmental organisations to come under scrutiny and be held accountable for their decisions. With the gambling industry being so tempestuous it’s natural for the Commission too often face criticism and controversy. See below for some of their most recent objections;

  • Fixed odds betting terminals are the victims of the latest debate surrounding the gambling industry and have come under much scrutiny for their addictive tendencies and ease of access in many of the nation’s bookmakers. Recent developments have seen the maximum stakes of FOBT being reduced after it was found that the ability to bet up to £300 a minute was deemed inappropriate. Although, the decision comes in the better interest of the well-being of the players it has come with swift criticism from many bookmakers and casinos.

Further concerns were aired surrounding the nature of FOBT with the point raised that many leading bookmakers choose to place these gambling machines in geographical areas where there are lower levels of employment and preying on the vulnerable. While criticism has come from both sides of the coin it is the Commission who have faced the brunt of the abuse for not clamping down in full. Figures from GambleAware show that 233,000 FOBT players lost over £1000 each in one sitting, while one person even lost £13778 on one occasion.

There’s arguments to be made on both sides of the spectrum, on one side players know what they are getting into and as the old saying goes ‘the house always wins’, but the UK Gambling commission need to be seen to be doing more to protect the vulnerable amid the pandemic of gambling addiction in the UK. In light of this, the Commission needs to maintain strong relationships with leading bookmakers and also have the interests of the industry at heart making the stories surround FOBT a double-edged sword for them to deal with.

  • The commission came under further scrutiny back in 2014 when leading online bookmaker BetButler closed down. All of BetButlers payouts and customer databases were sold off to a third party gaming party. Many players did not receive outstanding withdrawal requests for months with many players not receiving reimbursement at all. The Commission was criticised for not doing enough to create laws that prohibited this sort of passing of the buck practice and for not protecting the players and citizens it has jurisdiction over.

The Commission and Online Gaming

The rise of online gaming across slots and traditional table games has seen an exponential boom in business for many land-based bookmakers who have since emerged into the online market. The online boom has also created space for a huge range of new smaller competitors looking for a slice of the action.

Online gaming will be a hot topic among the commission with many grey areas arises through the covert nature of online gaming. There’s yet to be any major controversy to hit the online gaming world but it’s perhaps the nature of fixed odds betting that could provide the problems.

Alternatively, recent advancements in technology have made it easier than ever to gamble and bet. With our accessibility to this sort of media heightened by mobile phones, tablets and in-play betting the timing of player decision between resisting and depositing is shortened to the point of habit.

Nevertheless, the UK Gambling Commission continues to do a wonderful job at safeguarding the industry wholeheartedly, finding a suitable middle-ground for the industry to flourish while looking at the best interests of both player and bookmakers and online gaming platforms.