Across the UK gambling addiction is causing considerable havoc as many addicted individuals are losing much more than their money to this devastating illness. In some cases, the addict can lose almost everything he or she loves and cherishes, including their loved ones, home and even their job. However, as addiction is an illness, the addict may not even fully realise the severity of the situation until it is too late. Experts are looking at ways of preventing as many individuals as possible becoming gambling addicts and problem gamblers, so the Gambling Commission is set to put a tougher regime in place for gambling companies.

New and Improved Enforcement Plans

The Gambling Commission is set to roll out its new and improved enforcement plans that will explain the ways in which casinos, online gaming companies and bookmakers will be punished if they fail to comply with regulations. There is now a much higher risk for gambling firms of losing their operating licence and facing hefty fines if they do not tackle issues such as money laundering and gambling addictions. Last year, several of the biggest bookmakers reached voluntary settlements after they could not stop problem gambling or money laundering. The exact details of the new regime have not been revealed yet, but Sarah Harrison, chief executive of the Gambling Commission, explained that gambling firms should be prepared for more harsh methods to help ensure that they would not be used for ‘terrorist financing’ and money laundering.

Blanket Approach

In a speech given to senior figures in the gambling industry, Harrison said that the commission would ultimately move away from the ‘blanket approach’ of agreeing to a settlement with firms and instead would look to revoke their operating licence. She also said that the recent investigations into the industry had found “a lack of curiosity, and at worst, a leadership culture which puts commercial gain over compliance”. She went on to say, “We will put all access to all tools, including licence review (…) on an equal footing. Parliament gave us a wide range of regulatory tools for a reason.” She added that sanctions would be stricter and result in ‘higher penalties’, especially for companies that were found to have ‘repeated failings’.

Raise Ambitions

Harrison took over as chief executive of the commission in 2015 and since then has continually hinted that she would like to run a stricter process than previous chief executives. She said that she would like companies to raise their ambitions and set their sights higher before adding that they should ‘step up the pace of change’ before the new plans are enforced. In her opinion, she believes that the old process of agreeing voluntary payments with companies was too ‘drawn out’, and she said, “To create better incentives for early settlement, we will also be consulting on introducing time-limited settlements.”

Raising Standards

The Association of British Bookmakers, the gambling industry’s trade body, has made it known that they fully support the plans to ensure that the industry’s high standards are upheld. In a statement, they said among other things: “As a sector, we are always ready to work with the commission to raise standards and adhere not just to the regulatory and legal frameworks in place, but to the commitments in our responsible gambling code which go beyond that. Clearly, if there are failures that continue or are not addressed, then it is right to take action.”

Huge Negative Impact

Labour MP Carolyn Harris is also welcoming the stricter plans; however, has said that she would like to see the regulator looking at the huge problem in the gambling industry that is fixed odds betting terminals. These FOBTs allow eager gamblers to bet anything up to £100 every 20 seconds, which obviously has a huge negative impact on those who suffer from a gambling addiction. She said, “I welcome this action from the Gambling Commission, but I implore the Commission and the government to take immediate action to properly address the harm being done in communities across the country by the high stakes being waged on fixed odds betting terminals. Only by substantially reducing the maximum stake will we stop the harm being caused by these machines, which have been called the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling.”

Help and Support

If you have any concerns regarding a gambling addiction, whether it be your own or a loved one’s, then do not hesitate to get in touch with us here at Liberty House. Our priority is to ensure that any individual who reaches out to us for assistance is fully supported so that they have the means to successfully overcome their addiction once and for all. Our clinic was designed to ensure maximum comfort and our dedicated staff will make sure that any individual feels supported during their time at the facility. For more information, contact us today, and we will be more than happy to assist you.

Source:  Bookmakers face losing their licence and huge fines over problem gambling (The Guardian)