The Gambling Commission issued its 2017-18 Annual Report this week and laid bare its soul. More spending, more staffing and a little bit more money are the fiscal highlights – or lowlights. And for the regulator’s more touchy-feely audience, there was a huge dose of hard work and extensive activity to report on.
The Gambling Commission published its Annual Report this week, delivering a performance review of the organisation over the past year.
If it was a dating biog, you’d probably think it was an egotistical, over-bloated,arrogant companion with big balls and a bigger heart.
But this is the gambling regulator and this is the time of year that it has to blow its own trumpet as loud as it can and justify its very existence as forcefully as it can.
And this year, that’s exactly what it did – and fairly well, but at a cost.
The report played heavy on the regulator’s direction. “2017-18 saw a clear focus on change for both the industry and the Commission including the launch of a three- year strategy setting out the road map to make gambling fairer and safer in Britain,” the regulator declared.
“The year also saw the implementation of a new enforcement strategy which resulted in larger penalty packages for failings to protect consumers. A significant achievement for the regulator over this time was raising awareness of gambling-related harm and making progress in problem gambling being recognised as a public health issue.” Its ‘highlights’ included the evidence it submitted to government as part of the Review of Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures – evidence which was widely criticised by both the industry and beyond.
But its reach was not without note: it conducted a review of the online gambling market, setting out proposals to enhance consumer protection;continued partnership with other key regulators, the Competitions and Markets Authority and the Advertising Standards Authority to tackle misleading advertising and unfair terms and practices ;and focused on ensuring the National Lottery continues to maximise contributions to good causes.
And it was a busy year too. The GC handled 240 licence applications; undertook 1,030 operator assessments; logged 2,200 intelligence reports; smacked huge fines totalling £18m on poorly performing operators, notably 888 who were hit for £8.7m, and launched its consumer contact centre and a safer gambling programme.
And now for the bad news. All this cost 23.19m – an increase of 11 percent compared to last year.Its staff costs rose by 9.7 percent to 15.7m,probably a result of the 15 additional staff members it appointed to raise the GC ranks to 322 people.
And to the industry, more importantly, the cost was even greater. Fewer machines and no tangible growth in land-based operations, especially arcades and bingo halls, yet the machines based sector continued to make a hefty 10 percent contribution to the Commission. The major players were the casino sector (31pc), betting (30pc) and B2B suppliers (24pc).
At 92 pages in total,this year’s report may not get the GC a date, but its extensive review will certainly get it noticed.