UKGC Apologises

In the turbulent UK casino market, the UKGC apologises for the mistake, while a research company counts over £ 140 million in UKGC fines! (Image from Pixabay on pexels.com)

There’s been plenty of drama in the UK gambling market with online casinos, sports betting firms and land-based establishing contributing to over £ 140 million in fines.

One rule in particular that companies with gambling operations find themselves under the cosh and dishing out heft fines is an issue the UKGC takes seriously. That is the exposure of betting and casino ads to children. However, it seems even the UK is susceptible to breaking this statute after a recent Tweet posted on the UKGC feed had to be removed.

You can read more about that saga in the section below and get the lowdown of how many fines and how many millions per year the ‘non-profit’ UKGC makes from fines.

On top of this, there’s also news on the upcoming changes and long-awaited redrafting of the United Kingdom Gambling Act 2005. Operators already have a hint of what’s to come after the UK Gambling Minister, Paul Scully, confirmed that the regulatory authority is looking at how Australia is implementing advertising laws.

Looking for casino regulatory news: Catch up on the latest Ireland Gambling Authority news, plus there’s also news of a new iGaming licensing authority coming to India.

UKGC Tweet Removed but No Fines for the Commission

If a sports betting company or a casino tweeted an image of a child cheering on a World Cup football game, the fines would be in the 6 figures. However, for the UKGC, the regulatory authority of the United Kingdom’s gambling market, there will unlikely be any financial repercussions.

Although the UKGC does a great job of keeping the country’s gambling industry in line, it made a rare slip-up. The Tweet in question has since been removed and shrugged off with an official message from the authority apologising, However, there will likely be a bitter taste in some operator’s mouths, especially Betway which recently paid out a fine of £ 408,915 after the brand’s advertisements were found on the West Ham United football club’s children’s section.

According to regulation, any links between children and gambling whatsoever are banned. Therefore, even a gambling authority tweeting a picture of a child cheering on a football game is forbidden. That said, where we can stick up for the UKGC is the fact that it is a non-profit government-run organisation not trying to sell bets. On the other hand, a betting company exposing ads by making a child-gambling connection such as Betway on West Ham United FC’s website could lead to youngsters trying to gamble. At least that is the theory.

UKGC Gambling Act: The United Kingdom Gambling Act 2005 (2005 c 19) has been through some major changes over the last few years. In 2001 gamblers no longer had to pay a 15% tax levy on winnings with taxation now on the gambling companies’ profits. Also, advertising responsible gambling laws have changed dramatically.

UKGC Fines Increase From £ 4 million to £ 17 million per Year

The fines dished out by the UKGC have increased considerably over the past five to six years as have the number of penalties dished out. In 2016 there were as few as ten fines, but that rate has ballooned to as many as 37 fines in 2022 according a report published on the Vixio.com Regulatiy Intelligence website. With so many fines in place, and the sheer size of some of the fines, in 2022 the UKGC raked in £ 44 million+ as opposed to 2016’s £ 4 million figure.

In the report, further figures show that since the UKGC began issuing gambling licences in 2014, thus giving it the power to issue fines, it has taken more than £ 140 million in fines. The largest of those was the Entain penalty which was a staggering £ 17 million. Prior to that was a fine issued to Caesars Entertainment, which amounted to £ 13 million and began the company’s exit from the UK gambling market after buying out William Hill, then selling all UK assets to 888 Holdings.

Key areas resulting in fines: Anti Money Laundering (AML) failures by not checking players’ source of funds, incorrect advertising, and social responsibility fines dished out for either not carrying out proper Know Your Customer (KYC) checks and/or allowing players to bet obscene amounts of cash.

Year Number of Fines Yearly Fines Total
2016 10 £ 4m
2017 8 £ 8m
2018 22 £ 18m
2019 18 £ 12m
2020 20 £ 34m
2021 30 £ 20m
2022 37 £ 44m

New UKGC Gambling Act Review Due In The Coming Weeks – Australian Focus on Ads

With the many changes and regular reviews of the Gambling Act 2005, the UKGC is continuously changing the macro environment land-based and online gambling establishments operate in. Paul Scully, the UK Gambling Minister recently announced that a new UKGC Gambling Act review is near completion and in the coming weeks he will soon give the nod to officially publish the report.

One the key points Mr Scully highlighted was Australia’s current take on advertising laws. He said that the new Gambling Commission review will take a good look at how the Australian market deals with the issue of sports betting advertising. I say sports betting because there is no official licence for online casinos, that being said, land-based casino in the country must also follow the same advertising rules as sports books with web-based and retail operations.

Will Australia’s Taglines also affect the UK market? Tag lines that say ‘gamble responsibly’ are now changing to ‘Think. Is this a bet you really want to place?’; ‘What’s gambling really costing you?’; ‘What are you prepared to lose today?’ and ‘Chances are you’re about to lose’. The same ads could appear in the UK.

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