The UKGC Gets Strict for 2017, but Not Necessarily Harsh

Published January 21, 2017 by Lee R

The UKGC Gets Strict for 2017, but Not Necessarily Harsh

Social protection remains the priority of the new UKGC enforcement strategy.

The UKGC has adapted new measures to enforce gambling firm requirements to tackle problem gambling and money laundering.

Key Penalties

Heftier fines and increased risk of the loss of operating licence have been cited as the key penalties the Gambling Commission will rely upon in its new enforcement strategy to be laid out publicly this month.


The UKGC’s new stance is expected to be adapted to the 2016 examples of overly lengthy cases of major bookmakers reaching voluntary settlements for failing to satisfactorily uphold the UKGC’s dual priorities of preventing money laundering and problem gambling.

UKGC Chief Explains

New UKGC chief executive Sarah Harrison characterised the shift in policy from what she called the “blanket approach” of reaching settlements with transgressing firms in favour of more stringent licence reviews on a case-by-case basis, with “repeated failings” subject to “higher penalties.”

Leaning Up

Since taking the reins heading up the UKGC in 2015, Harrison has championed a proactive regime, calling on companies to “raise your ambitions and your sights higher” by stepping up “the pace of change” before the publication of the new enforcement strategy.

Preventing Lengthy Cases

Part of this strategy includes the elimination of months-long settlement negotiations with operators such as last year’s voluntary £280,000 settlement with Paddy Power for irresponsibly encouraging a problem gambler or the £800,000 BetFred settlement after the operator’s own admission of “failure to implement proper anti-money laundering controls” resulted in acceptance of stolen money from a VIP customer.

Time-Capped Settlements

The key innovation offered up by Harris is setting time limits for settlements, rendering  firms who drag their feet vulnerable to higher penalties than if they had agree to pay immediately.   

The Greater Goal

In the spirit of having the issuance of UKGC online gambling licences benefit all participants, the removal of lengthy settlement processes should render the enforcement system more transparent and consistent to all parties involved. 

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