The Gambling Business Group, the strategic voice of the industry, has achieved clarity on the value and allocation of financial sanctions and voluntary settlements issued by the UK Gambling Commission following a freedom of information request.
The request, which was submitted by GBG a full two years after it first approached the Commission using more orthodox means, revealed financial sanctions totalling £58,946,578 over a five and a half year period between June 2014 and December 2019. As is their prerogative, the Gambling Commission has taken £756,997 from these funds to cover their own costs in carrying out the investigations. Some £24m of the penalties has been repatriated to those who fell victim to illegal gambling activity with £34,843,338 apportioned to agreed ‘socially responsible purposes’ as per the Commission’s Statement of Principles for determining financial penalties (June 2017).
Explaining the background to the FOI request and what the report means, Gambling Business Group CEO, Peter Hannibal, said: “When we first wrote to the then Minister, Tracey Crouch and subsequently requested the information from the Commission, we were informed (by the Gambling Commission) that they did not consider it to be a priority. Under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), citizens have the right to request information from any publicly funded body and to get answers, which I’m pleased to say we have now received.
“Apart from the straightforward issue of why did it take an FOI request to get this information in the first place, it appears that the Commission does not have an independent process in place for checking whether the funds they have allocated to socially responsible purposes have been spent effectively and have delivered the impact intended. This is despite the fact that within the Commission’s own Statement of Principles there is an obligation to meaningfully evaluate the effectiveness of the spend on socially responsible purposes.”
He added: “One of the few things that all stakeholders in UK Gambling can agree on is that all RET financial resources are vitally important and should be spent where they are most effective in reducing and preventing harm. Whether these funds are raised through donations, or via a levy, or as in this case through financial penalties, all funds are equally valuable and should as a result be subject to effective valuation.” The full FOI response can be viewed at gamblingbusinessgroup.co.uk