The beginning of the week saw the UK Government publish its response to a consultation on a proposal seeking to increase the fees that gambling operators in the country are expected to pay to the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) for the right to offer their services.
The last time when the fees applicable to gambling companies were revised was in 2017.
The newly increased fees are expected to help the UK gambling regulatory body respond to new technological developments, risks and challenges, as well as the constantly increasing costs of the UKGC existing regulation. Furthermore, the fee structure revision is set to also help the country’s gambling regulator address some areas that the Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office have identified, such as ensuring effective regulation of the local gambling sector and bringing some improvement to the use of intelligence and data.
The changes associated with the aforementioned consultation include a 55% increase in the fee bands for annual online gambling operating licences. The rise is set to take effect on October 1st, 2021. Licensing fees for brick-and-mortar gambling companies are also set to be boosted, with the changes scheduled to come into effect on April 6th, 2022 as part of the Government’s recognition of the impact that the coronavirus pandemic and the closures of land-based gambling venues associated with the Covid-19 have had on the businesses.
Fee Increase to Provide UKGC with More Resources to Regulate the UK Gambling Sector
The aforementioned consultation took place from January 29th to March 26th, 2021, with a cross-section of the gambling sector, as well as clinician and academic researchers making a response. The House of Lords group Peers for Gambling Reform also responded to the consultation.
The planned increase in fees applicable to gambling businesses is expected to provide the UK Gambling Commission with more resources to face some new challenges in the British gambling market, such as product and payment innovation that is constantly taking place across the sector.
Reportedly, the new structure will mean that the gambling watchdog is better equipped to face the constantly changing landscape of the country’s gambling sector, which has become increasingly global over the last few years. Furthermore, the UKGC will get a better placement when it comes to addressing the risks and possible harm associated with unlicensed companies and the need to provide better protection to customers and the licensed companies against the black market.
Apart from the fee bands for annual operating licences, all application fees will also face an increase. The latter are set to grow by 60%. Also, the discounts for being licensed to offer multiple activities are set to be removed by the UK Government.
The changes are set to be brought into effect through a special statutory instrument that will be rolled out.
As Casino Guardian has reported, the ongoing review of the UK Gambling Act 2005 is also set to affect the powers and resources of the country’s gambling regulatory body in order to make sure that the UKGC has a suitable regulatory framework for the sector that is getting increasingly digitalised. The call for evidence phase of the Gambling Act Review was brought to an end in March. Currently, the responses are taken into consideration, and the review findings are expected to be published at the end of 2021.