UK Gambling Commission reflects on a ‘year of change and progress’

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The British regulator, the Gambling Commission, has released its yearly retrospective, tipping the last 12 months as game-changing to the make-up of the UK industry.


The UK’s Gambling Commission has published its annual performance report, which heralds the last 12 months as “a year of change and progress” for the organisation.

An opening statement from outgoing chairman Philip Graf noted that 2015 was the first full year in which the commission had regulated the entirety of the UK online betting sector – after point-of-consumption legislation was introduced in November 2014.

Phil GrafGraf stated that the new law had brought “significant change [to] the UK’s gambling landscape”, which in turn presented “significant new challenges to the regulation of gambling in Great Britain”.

Graf also recognised a number of recent high-profile acquisitions and mergers within the industry – citing deals struck between Ladbrokes/Gala Cora, Betfair/Paddy Power and GVC/Bwin.Party by way of example.

Remarking on the stance of operators towards issues such as money-laundering and gambling related harm, Graf claimed that UK stakeholders had displayed “a welcome change in attitude”, but maintained that more could still be done.

“Whilst there has been a great deal of activity, it is also clear that much still needs to be done to deliver real impact in reducing the risk of harm and criminal activity,” he said.

With regard to economic outlook, the commission’s report detailed that the UK’s landed commercial gambling industry (inclusive of betting but exclusive of the National Lottery and other lottery products) generated gross gambling yield of £5.4bn (E6.4bn) last year – a two per cent climb on the 2014 total.

Meanwhile, for the first time ever, remote gaming was the single highest earning sector in the UK gambling industry, netting £3.48bn (E4.57bn) in revenue.

In terms of structural change, April saw five new commissioners take up their respective posts – whilst Graf plans to step down this summer. His successor is yet to be named.

“I have every confidence that the commission is in excellent hands,” Graf stated. “However, it is a challenge for non-executives to get up to speed in a market which is so fast paced and complex and I trust the commission will not have to deal with such wholesale changes at board level again over a relatively short period of time.”


I have every confidence that the commission is in excellent hands


Finally, the Gambling Commission’s new chief executive Sarah Harrison (who took up her position last October) said that she intended future policy to be “mindful of the need to put consumers at the heart of regulation.”

“This will include building on vital work to protect the most vulnerable, and setting standards for responsible and safe gambling,” she added.

In a separate announcement, the Gambling Commission also recently unveiled its proposition for a new license fee structure – based around proportionate GGY. If given the go-ahead by parliament, the commission claims that nearly 2,000 of the 3,000 landed operators under its jurisdiction could see their annual licence fees reduced.



[dropcap]A[/dropcap]ccording to statistics released alongside the Gambling Commission’s latest report, as many as 45 per cent of the British population places a wager of some kind at least once every month. The National Lottery remains tremendously popular in the UK – with as many as a third of all adult Brits regularly buying a ticket. The industry’s engagement with younger players remains relatively slight, however: just over 30 per cent of 18-24 year-olds claim to have an interest in gambling, making them the most elusive player demographic.

In contrast, those aged between 45 and 54 prove the most likely gamblers – with just over half claiming to enjoy the activity on a semi-regular basis. Meanwhile, the online sector continues to enjoy growing popularity. In its most recent survey, the Gambling Commission saw 15 per cent of respondents claim to gamble online – the vast majority of which (over 60 per cent) doing so via a laptop device.



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