The UKGC Toughens Sanctions to Mixed Reviews

Published August 2, 2018 by Lee R

The UKGC Toughens Sanctions to Mixed Reviews

Operators and iGaming interests have been sublimated in the UK to a more proactive model of regulation and preventative enforcement.

The main governing body of the UK is tightening sanctions.

Incoming Changes

The UK Gambling Commission UKGC has set a date of October 31 as the moment for tighter sanctions to come into force for violations of advertising rules and consumer protection laws.

Policy Priorities

The new sanctions will target specific marketing violations such as disproportionately appealing to youth or glamorizing or making light of gambling activity, with operators held responsible for the failings of any third party affiliates as well.

Operators will also be held to task for improving compliance processes, with the new guidelines imposing an eight week deadline for all formal compliance issues to be resolved. Restrictions and penalties against operators who send spam marketing emails or texts will also increase.  

UKGC Chief Speaks

Of the changes, Gambling Commission Chief Executive Neil McArthur had this to say:

“These changes will protect consumers from irresponsible advertising and misleading promotions, ensure that they can withdraw their money more easily, and will mean that firms have to deal with complaints more swiftly.””

Unlimited Liability

The most telling mandate of the new restrictions is the imposition of unlimited fines for breaches.

Precursor to Change

The changes have been issued on the heels of a joint UKGC investigation conducted along with the Competition and Markets Authority CMA, an investigation originally launched in 2016 to determine if online gambling companies were treating customers fairly.

Earlier Adaptations

The investigation culminated last year in special enforcement action on the part of the CMA against several online gaming companies believed to have violated gambling policy advertising guidelines. 

By February of this year, prominent online operators in the UK such as PT Entertainment, Ladbrokes, and William Hill had committed to increased compliance by adapting their bonus promotions policies in the interests of reducing misleading content.  BGO Entertainment Limited followed a month later with a commitment to change policies to prevent the misleading of customers as well. 

Government Criticised

These new restrictions come down from the UKGC amidst heavy public criticism of the government for lax protection of players, such as the decision to delay the new maximum stake of fixed-odds betting terminals at £2 ($2.67) until 2020, seen by critics as an overly aggressive move to make up lost gaming revenues.


The new restrictions may be seen as a band-aid to some and a political measure to others, but proactive protection of customers to address the more subtle points of advertising should provide productive social benefits at the end of the day.

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