United Kingdom Gambling Commission’s Take On State of the Gambling Industry — Past, Present, and Future

The annual CMS Conference was held virtually for the first time in its history due to the restrictions imposed by COVID-19 protocols. One of the keynote speakers was UKGC’s Executive Director Tim Miller, who laid out the regulators plans for the future and gave a complete rundown of the current state of affairs in the industry. 

Bear with us as we summarise his speech and cover the most important parts so that you are kept in the loop with the latest developments and possible changes in the legislative framework. 

Chief Executive Neil McArthur Leaves UKGC 

After 15 years of dedicated service to the UKGC, CEO Neil McArthur declared his plans to leave the organisation. McArthur joined the Commission back in 2006 and assumed the role of General Counsel before rising to the position of Chief Executive in 2018. His departure will be a major hit to the Commission, but his legacy will serve as a reminder of what kind of dedication and zeal is expected. 

During his tenure, the UKGC introduced age verification checks, the ban on the use of credit cards for gambling, and many new protective measures that help combat the negative influence of problem gambling. 

Pre and Post COVID-19 Data Shows Interesting Fluctuations 

The gambling industry is constantly changing, and the global COVID-19 pandemic only sped things up. According to Tim Miller, things were evolving even before the pandemic, and the way people gamble was changing. More than 50% of total gross gambling yield came by way of online gambling, and the increase is owed to more and more mobile phones being used for gambling. 

Also, slots and in-play betting have been on the rise in recent years, as have the mergers and acquisitions with significant implications for the industry. 

An interesting set of data showing the problem gambling rate in 2020 was published. During COVID, a drop to 0.3% in the problem gambling rate was marked, which is twice the result achieved in previous years. 

This can be confusing to some, but if you consider the fact that most land-based facilities remained closed during the better part of 2020, the numbers seem justified. 

Still, the UKGC will continue to monitor the rates and act accordingly. 

Planned Future Actions By UKGC  

The UKGC is planning on releasing an updated Corporate Strategy plan and a brand new Business Plan that will outline the future actions and milestones of the Commission. The key points are expected to remain the same: keep children and vulnerable individuals from gambling, improve regulation, keep crime away from gambling, and ensure a fair market. 

Further gambling regulation changes are planned for late October 2021. Namely, slot spin speeds faster than 2.5 seconds will be banned, and so will Autoplay and any features that speed up the play or give an illusion of control over the outcome of the spin. Also, if a win is below the stake’s value, images and sounds providing the illusion of a win will be removed. 

Furthermore, the continuous challenges from unlicensed operators are not to be denied and overlooked. The UKGC will keep on protecting fair and regulated gambling and all people who engage in it. Over the past couple of years, the Commission has issued fines to operators in excess of £100 million and even revoked ten licenses, so we can expect to see it actively working against operators who allow people to gamble sums they can’t afford. 

May 31, 2021