Gambling Commission suspends licence of online gambling operator In Touch Games Limited

United Kingdom

The Gambling Commission (the “Commission”) announced on 1 September 2023 that it had immediately suspended the operating licences of In Touch Games Limited (“ITG”) in accordance with section 118(2) of the Gambling Act 2005 (the “Act”).

This comes after the Commission imposed a £6.1m fine on ITG in January 2023 and is therefore the fourth time that ITG has faced regulatory action – in 2019, it paid a £2.2m settlement for regulatory failures and in 2021, it received a £3.4m fine and warning for further failures.

ITG’s operating licence was suspended during the course of licence review which was being conducted under section 116 of the Act. The Commission noted that it was concerned that ITG acted contrary to the Act and the provisions of the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (the “LCCP”) in respect of money laundering, fair and transparent terms and practices and reporting key events. 

The suspension does not prevent ITG from allowing consumers to access their accounts and withdrawing funds. The Commission expects ITG to close its websites for customers in Great Britain and has noted that ITG must provide customers with information on how to withdraw their funds and access their accounts.

A few days after the suspension, on 5 September 2023, ITG surrendered its operating licence altogether. The Commission however retains the power to continue investigating ITG as set out in the Licensing Compliance and Enforcement policy and will consider whether to commence action against individuals who held personal management licences at ITG during the relevant period.

The decision to suspend ITG’s licences demonstrates the Commission is willing to take decisive action where it considers an operator’s conduct might be in breach of the Act and LCCP, and in particular, where there are repeated concerns as to compliance. ITG’s repeated failures over such a short period of time are likely to be a particular concern for the Commission as it considers whether those holding personal management licences should be held to account.

It is important that operators ensure that key events, which are set out under LC 15.2.1 of the LCCP and which could have a significant impact on the nature or structure of an operator’s business, are reported as soon as reasonably practicable. It is also worth reflecting on whether terms are sufficiently fair and transparent; the Commission has announced that it is reviewing withdrawal policies of operators to consider whether the current regulatory framework provides sufficient protections to consumers.

Co-authored by Xenia Baranova