Peter Hannibal, chief executive of the cross industry Gambling Business Group, believes the proposed reduction in staffing levels at the Gambling Commission, as reported last week by The Guardian newspaper, may be an inevitable consequence of the COVID-19 crisis.
He said: “The land-based Gambling Industry is currently closed for business. This is going to have a severe long-term effect on revenues (GGY) and also on the number of licences that survive this long-term closure. On top of this, sport is also currently closed for business, which is decimating online gambling GGY.
There is a massive question mark over what the short and long-term impact of this will have. The Gambling Commission’s fees structure is tiered on levels of GGY. Subsequently, depending upon how many licencees slide down the fee structure their income is going to reduce over the coming 18-months, and they absolutely need to plan for that. Fundamentally, there will be a smaller industry to regulate coming out of this, but no-one can yet predict how much smaller.”
Having recently called for a significant increase in the remuneration packages paid to the senior team at the Commission in order to attract a better calibre of candidate, Hannibal said: If the Gambling Commission is ‘weak’ as reported in the Guardian article, it is not because there are not enough heads in the organisation, it is that those heads were appointed when they know so very little about the products and customers which they are expected to regulate. In fact I would challenge them to identify what quantifiable gambling knowledge or experience they have in the decision making tiers of the organisation that’s been gained other than through working for the Commission.
“GBG members want a fair, progressive, efficient and effective regulator that’s agile and that understands the industry, the products and the customers. Increasingly the Commission is resembling an inward looking bureaucracy in which more people do less things, and seem to be taking more time to do them.”