What is the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC)?
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) is United Kingdom's gambling regulator and is an independent regulatory body that was established under the UK Gambling Act in 2005. Based in Birmingham, the commission covers all of the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland.
Additionally, the UKGC is funded by a mix of fees from licensees and levy payments from the National Lottery. In 2018/19, the Commission's income was £26.6 million, while its expenditure was £23.3 million. Around two-thirds of its income comes from fees paid by licensees, with the remainder coming from the National Lottery levy. The Commission levies a 0.1% charge on all National Lottery sales, which raised £8.9 million in 2018/19.
What does the UKGC do?
The mission of the UKGC is to protect consumers, keep crime out of gambling, and ensure that gambling is fair and open. Read more about the UKGC's plans for the UK's gambling sector in our blog, 'From paper to policy: What's next for the UK's gambling sector?'. To accomplish these goals, the UKGC licenses and regulates all gambling businesses in the country, including online and offline casinos, bookmakers, lotteries, slot machines, and Bingo halls.
Along with a number of responsibilities, they also work to prevent crime and protect the public from being harmed by gambling.
In addition, the gambling commission raises awareness of problem gambling and provides support to those affected by it. You can contact the gambling commission if you have any concerns about gambling in the United Kingdom.
Enforcement actions by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission
The UKGC also works to protect vulnerable people from being exploited by gambling companies through customer age verification (see also our page on the prevention of Underage Gambling). In order to do this, the UKGC enforces a number of rules and regulations on gambling companies.
For example, all gambling companies must have a license from the UKGC in order to operate in the UK. In addition, all gambling products and services must be advertised in a clear and transparent way. The UKGC also carries out regular monitoring and audits of gambling companies to ensure compliance with its rules and regulations. If a gambling company breaks the rules, the UKGC can take enforcement action against them, which can include issuing fines or revoking their license.
Furthermore, the UKGC educates the public about responsible gambling practices and provides support to problem gamblers. By working to keep gambling safe and fair, the UKGC wants to ensure to create a vibrant and thriving gambling industry in the United Kingdom.
Due to its nature, online gambling is known to draw in individuals or organizations involved in criminal activities. Therefore the UKGC works with law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute illegal gambling activities.
To tackle terrorist financing and other criminal activities related to gambling, the UK Gambling Commission recommends various approaches, including risk assessments, customer monitoring, CDD (Customer Due Diligence) processes, record keeping, and reporting suspicious activities (internal and external).
Since the beginning of 2023, numerous operators have been fined or reprimanded for AML procedure failings. In March, the UK Gambling Commission imposed a £7.1 million penalty on Platinum Gaming Limited and 32Red Limited for anti-money laundering failures.
How does the UK Gambling Commission handle complaints?
The commission receives complaints from the public about gambling businesses, and it also investigates reports of illegal gambling activity. If the commission finds that a gambling business has breached the law, it can take enforcement action against the business, including ordering it to stop operating or pay a fine.
Additionally, the commission can refer serious cases to the police for prosecution. As the UK's primary gambling regulator, the Gambling Commission plays an important role in ensuring that gambling is fair and safe for all consumers.
How the UKGC hands out fines
The UK Gambling Commission has fined a number of operators for breaches of licensing conditions and social responsibility codes. These include:
- A fine of £300,000 for an operator who failed to protect a customer who was showing signs of gambling disorder and allowed them to continue gambling.
- A fine of £150,000 for an operator who did not conduct adequate background checks on a customer who went on to cause harm to themselves and others.
- A fine of £90,000 for an operator who allowed a customer to deposit and gamble large sums of money without conducting any checks on their source of funds.
The UKGC takes failure to comply with licensing conditions and social responsibility codes very seriously, and the above examples show that operators can face significant financial penalties if they do not adhere to these requirements. Operators must ensure that they have robust systems and controls in place to protect customers and ensure compliance with UK gambling regulations.
Examples of fines by the UKGC
The UKGC has handed out several significant fines in recent years. In the following, we list some of the most popular fines ever imposed by the UK Gambling Commission.
In 2018, they fined William Hill £6.2 million for “systemic social responsibility and Money Laundering failures.” This included a failure to properly interact with customers who were showing signs of gambling addiction, as well as ineffective Money Laundering checks.
In 2019, they fined MansionBet £350,000 for failing to protect vulnerable customers and prevent Money Laundering.
And in 2020, they fined Sky Betting & Gaming £1 million for failing to properly handle customers who showed signs of gambling addiction. The UKGC takes compliance very seriously and these fines show that they are willing to take action against companies who fail to meet their standards.
In March 2022, the UK Gambling Commission issued a fine of £9.4m to gambling group 888 after an investigation discovered social responsibility and Money Laundering failings. This is one of the largest fines ever levied by the UKGC, and serves as a reminder of the importance of compliance with regulations. 888 has been found to have failed to adequately protect vulnerable customers and to have failed to properly identify and report cases of Money Laundering. The UKGC has made it clear that it expects all gambling operators to take steps to ensure compliance with its rules and regulations. This latest fine should serve as a reminder that the UKGC is willing to take firm action against those who flout the law.
Also in March 2022, the UKGC fined Sky Bet £1.17 million for sending promotional emails to customers who had self-excluded from gambling. The UKGC found that Sky Bet had failed to have adequate safeguards in place to prevent such communications from being sent. This is the second time in two years that the UKGC has fined Sky Bet for breaching marketing regulations. In 2016, Sky Bet was fined £1 million for failing to properly identify and assess problem gamblers. These latest findings suggest that Sky Bet has still not made sufficient progress in addressing the UKGC's concerns. The UKGC has said that it will continue to monitor the situation and take enforcement action if necessary.