The UK gambling industry is going through significant changes, with Sarah Gardner, deputy chief executive of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), ensuring that the regulator is even more focused on ensuring a fairer and safer gambling environment for vulnerable individuals. The Commission’s representative spoke at the Bacta Annual Convention 2021, delivering a speech on the impact of the global pandemic and how the gambling industry in the UK is evolving.
In other news from last week, a man was imprisoned for three months after he took advantage of profits generated from a charity lottery. In addition to being jailed, the man will also pay a £1,000 compensation to the charity organisation he deprived of funds.
Year of Changes for UKGC Means Even Stricter Regulations to Ensure Safer Gambling Environment
During the Bacta Annual Convention, Sarah Gardner delivered a speech, summarising the past year and the changes in the gambling industry in the UK. As the global pandemic had a devastating effect on various areas, the gambling industry was also struck by the negative impact of Covid-19. The land-based gambling businesses were affected the most as they were not able to operate and had to make difficult decisions to try and keep their operations afloat.
Gardner also acknowledged the effect the pandemic had on gambling trends that were already taking over the industry even before Covid-19. One such trend is switching from land-based to online and mobile gambling. The UKGC has taken the previous 20 months to closely review the pandemic’s effect on people’s behaviour and the types of risks they might be exposed to.
The regulator’s representative also spoke on the regulatory measures the Gambling Commission has taken in the past few years. Starting in 2017, the regulator has issued penalty packages that amounted to over £100 million. For the same period, the UKGC had also revoked the licenses of 10 operators, not counting the cases of licenses being surrendered before the Commission’s investigation was over.
Gardner ensured that the Gambling Commission is treating every operator the same, without taking into consideration the brand’s scale. One such example is BGO, which welcomed about 2 million British customers before the company surrendered their UKGC license. There are a few focal points that the Commission was working on in the last two years. These include the way VIP and high-value customers are treated, the design incorporated in online games and other gambling products, and the Ad-Tech system utilised to protect children, young individuals, and high-risk groups.
Even though recent statistics show a decline in the harmful gambling rates, Gardner added that now is not the time to calm down. According to recent numbers, 0.3% of people in the UK have reported they are suffering from problem gambling. The data indicates a decline compared to the rate of 0.6% for September 2020. There is also a drop in the moderate risk rate, declining to 0.7% in September 2021 while a year ago the rate was 1.2%. Gardner reported that the gambling industry in the UK is on the right track but the hard work must continue in the upcoming years as well.
Man Serves Three Months in Jail for Inappropriate Use of Lottery Funds
Last week it became clear that a man will be imprisoned for three months after he ran a lottery on the behalf of a charity and deprived it of £285,000. The said man is Simon Rydings, 50, residing in Edinburgh and the lottery he ran was on the behalf of Sheffield Hospitals Charity. Due to his actions, in addition to being jailed, Rydings will also need to pay a compensation of £1,000 to the charity. He will need to pay the sum within 18 months after he is released from prison.
Rydings was Chief Executive Officer of Capen Limited, which is an operator that has obtained an external manager licence for offering lottery games. While he was in charge of the operating company, Rydungs did not pass on the lottery funds of £285,000 to the charity. In an investigation led by the UKGC, Rydings admitted to misusing funds generated from the charity lottery. The inappropriate use of the charity money continued between 1 January 2018 and 31 March 2020.
When asked by the Birmingham Magistrates’ Court, Rydings said he used the lottery proceeds for other purposes related to conducting the business. He also admitted he was not financially capable of returning the £285,000 back to the charity.