The regulator says a step-change towards digital meetings, wherein data and testimony can be reviewed en-masse, will be more efficient for both itself and operators alike. Licensee inspections may soon become virtual, but the consequences will be very real.
An online seminar hosted by the Gambling Commission last week hinted at the style of its future regulatory action for the foreseeable future, with the watchdog saying that it would switch towards an almost exclusively virtual method of pre-planned inspections of its licensees: marking a departure away from the surprise onsite visits of the past.
The change in approach follows on from a period of significant restructuring at the regulatory body, and eschews in-person inspections in favour of arranged emeetings (via Skype or an equivalent) with a heavier reliance on operator data.
“The primary change that we are undertaking is that premises will be assessed using your data,” explained a Commission spokesperson. “We are aware that each of you will have different structures and PML responsibilities, so we will obviously engage with you to identify those best placed to access the information we require. It may well be that the information is held and collated by a central team and it is those that we will need to engage with.”
The Commission went on to say that AML, complaint issues, self-exclusion implementation, customer interactions with staff and underage play would all be under scrutiny in the digital inspection process – with inspectors reliant on compelling data and self-review on the part of operators both on an individual and (where applicable) regional level. For instance, in the case of age verification, the Commission stipulated: “in addition to the bare numbers [of testing figures] we want to know where operators have identified systemic or repeated failures.”
In a follow-up Q&A session with Bacta representatives, the Commission said that the online inspection programme had already commenced: with the length of assessment ranging from just one hour for a singular premises, to several days for a region-wide operation.
“We believe that our new approach will mean that standards can be raised more quickly across your estates as we will no longer take a piecemeal premise by premise approach,” explained the Commission. “Instead, we will be able to gain a clear understanding how you direct your resource and how you use that resource to ensure compliance.”