Gambling Commission called to task over failure to tackle illegal machine sales online

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It’s been a bone of contention for years, but Gambling Commission indifference to illegal machine sales online has now been brought to the top of the industry agenda. Trade association Bacta has called for action to stop sales of unlicensed machines on eBay, Facebook and other sites.


Responding to requests from members, Bacta has written to the Gambling Commission urging them to do more to combat the selling of illegal machines over social media marketplaces, auction sites and other online sources.

Bacta CEO John White said: “On any given day there are thousands of gambling machines listed on the main online sales platforms such as Facebook and eBay. Many of the individual advertisements relate to single machines, however, others relate to two or more machines and in some cases multiple numbers of gambling machines being offered for sale.”

The association’s membership support officer David Miller provided evidence in the industry’s letter of numerous examples of machines being offered for sale illegally. “Virtually all listings for gambling machines provide no indication as to whether the seller is in any way registered to conduct a business of selling/supplying machines by way of technical operating licence or single machine permit,” he said. “In fact, there were only a few advertisements where there was any reference to the seller being either registered or licenced by the Gambling Commission. Checks have been made on the reference numbers provided but I was unable to verify the information.”

“Although eBay and Facebook must already be aware of the issue of illegal sales, it is clear that any physical checks or computer recognition software they are currently utilising appear to be completely insufficient to prevent offence(s) being committed under their sales umbrella,” Miller added. “It would appear that whether knowingly or unknowingly, the major online sales platforms are currently acting as a conduit to illegal activity or aiding and abetting offenders.”

Bacta has also written to eBay and Facebook with its concerns but no response has been received to date.

In its call to action, the trade body proposes enforcement action by the police and the Commission to include direct liaison with the major online sales platforms in order to encourage removal of such advertisements and the prevention of any/ all future listings. If this move were to fail, the authorities should then consider exercising their enforcement powers under current UK legislation.

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