On the 29 November 2023, the Gambling Commission (“GC”) released its second set of consultations on the Gambling White Paper which covers five key areas:
This note focuses on changes to the frequency of regulatory returns submissions.
This section of the consultation aims to gather views on how often licensees should submit their regulatory returns. These returns provide information on licensees’ activities, products, and compliance with the Gambling Act 2005. The GC uses regulatory returns to understand the impact of gambling on consumers, society and the economy and to support their approach to regulation. The data provided from the returns also aids the GC’s income forecasting and budget management.
Current Regulatory Return Frequency
The current frequency of regulatory returns submissions varies depending on the gambling licence type. For instance, of the 2,808 gambling licensees, 2,433 currently submit annual returns whereas 375 submit quarterly returns, including the vast majority of remote casino, betting and bingo licensees. In addition, the GC has been accepting voluntary submissions by a few licensees on a monthly basis. The GC believes that this inconsistency makes it difficult for them to monitor and enforce the gambling sector effectively, and to identify emerging trends and risks.
The proposed changes would require all licensees to submit their regulatory returns quarterly, regardless of their gambling licence type and remove the option to submit voluntary monthly reports. The GC has stated that the proposed changes will:
(i) “have a material impact on [their] ability to budget based on a better understanding of income levels and model forecasts more accurately.
(ii) standardise reporting periods across the industry.
(iii) provide a timelier and more accurate picture of the gambling sector, in line with aspirations that [they] have set out and the direction of the government’s White Paper intentions.
(iv) provide simplicity of requirement and systems development.”
The changes proposed in this consultation are in addition to other changes that are being implemented by the GC which it states “include changes to the range of data required, the harmonisation of reporting periods across the industry, and improving the functionality for submitting and quality assuring the data”. These changes will be implemented following review of responses to a 12-week consultation on ‘Changes to information requirements in the LCCP, regulatory returns, official statistics, and related matters’ that the GC ran between February and May 2020, and which involved 70 written responses from various stakeholder groups, such as industry associations, trade unions, consumer groups, local authorities, and others.
The 2020 consultation has resulted in: (i) the quarterly return submission dates being agreed as 28 January, 28 April, 28 July and 28 October; and (ii) the GC intending to remove many of the current data fields which it says will ensure:
- “data completion is less time-consuming for gambling licensees
- an opportunity to clarify questions and improve data quality
- obsolete and non-business critical fields/ questions are removed
- improved understanding of current and emerging issues.“
Impact of the changes
The proposed benefits of improvements to forecasting and data quality come at the expense of the administrative burden of more frequent reporting for most gambling licensees. However, the GC seek to reassure licensees that for each quarterly submission, an unchanged template will be used and most of the data will have already been provided, resulting in a more efficient process. This is in addition to the overall reduction in data fields meaning that, according to the GC, the regulatory burden will be moderate and proportional to the advantages gained.
The consultation invites all stakeholders to share their views on whether they support or oppose the proposed changes, as well as any other suggestions or comments they may have. The consultation will close on 21 February 2024.
The Gambling Commission’s First Set of Consultations
The GC released its first set of consultations in July 2023, which ran to October that year. The GC has confirmed that the responses to the first set of consultations are currently being analysed. Further information on these consultations can be found through the following links: