Online gambling company Stakers revealed that it has surrendered its operating licence in the UK and has stopped offering its services in the jurisdiction. The operator made the decision to surrender the legal permit after in April a First Tier Tribunal dismissed Stakers’ appeal against the suspension of its licence.
Last March, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) started a review into the business of the gambling company under the provisions of Section 116 of the UK Gambling Act 2005 that provides the regulator with the opportunity to check whether a licensed operator meets certain criteria or not. As the industry watchdog explained at the time, Stakers’ operating licence was suspended by the UKGC during the company’s review under Sections 116 and 118 because of several compliance failures.
The regulator, however, did not specify what the failures were. The UKGC cited Section 116(2)(a) of the Gambling Act 2005, which allows it to make such a review if it has reason to believe that some of the activities offered by the company were not in line with the condition of the operating licence it held.
Subsequently, the gambling regulator informed Stakers that it should advise its customers to stop placing bets through its gambling platform. The company was also told it should encourage players to withdraw the funds they had in their accounts.
Stakers Preferred to Stop Operating in the Country Rather Than Pay Financial Penalty
Richard Williams, one of the solicitors working for the legal representatives of Stakers, issued a statement to officially confirm that the gambling company made an early decision to cease operation in the UK rather than pay a monetary penalty for the found failures.
In his statement, Mr Williams revealed that the First Tier Tribunal rejected the original application of the gambling firm to pause the licence suspension. Because of that, the company’s business was effectively non-existent by the time Stakers’ appeal was heard.
The gambling business’ appeal covered several regulatory issues, such as whether the company could be forced to take part in compliance assessments carried out via Skype, and whether the ones participating in these assessments should be cautioned under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) before the recorded compliance assessments.
As revealed by the solicitor, it took the Tribunal twelve months from the initial licence suspension and six months from the final hearing to officially announce its decision on the case. The judge ruled that the assessments held over Skype were lawful when it came to the production of documents and records, but still, gambling companies were not required by law to display live operational environments to the regulator this way. They were also not obliged to provide test accounts.
Mr Williams further noted that gambling companies whose operating licences had been suspended should be well aware of the fact that appealing such a decision to the First Tier Tribunal might not be a good option for them when they disagree with the UKGC about the alleged regulatory failures in case they want to have their business running.