U.k. Gambling Commission Mulls Fee Changes

New regulatory and tax regime for online gambling could change the costs

The British Gambling Commission is planning to advise the government on what fee structure changes may be necessary to take account of the significant changes in the population of operators that it regulates and to address identified problems in the current fees structure.
The previous coalition government indicated that it would consider reviewing the Commission's fees and costs once the changes to the regulation of remote gambling have been fully implemented, and the first full year of data should be available by the end of 2015, giving more clarity on the question of fees appropriate to the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014.
"The recent extension of licensing to overseas operators has created a dividend for our finances from remote operators which was difficult to predict with any accuracy," a statement from the Commission noted.
"In other words, there is expected to be a considerable increase in income without a directly proportionate or corresponding increase in costs, as many of our costs have a large fixed-cost element.
"However, the scale of that dividend may yet turn out to be significantly diminished by mergers, by the impact of the gambling tax changes (as less competitive operators withdraw from the market) and by operators reducing fee category.
"On the cost side, we may incur significant costs associated with the proposed self-exclusion database which were not originally factored into our medium-term plan, though highlighted as a risk; and the actual costs associated with regulating remote operators may increase beyond the levels of fees currently set for recovering costs from these operators.
"The immediate impacts of the changes to remote gambling regulation, in terms of the effect on the Commission's costs and income, should be clearer by the end of 2015 as newly-licensed operators based overseas decide whether to retain their Commission licences, and at what level.
"The main modelling and development of our advice to government on specific fee proposals cannot therefore be completed before the end of this year when we get these figures."
In the meantime the Commission has issued a discussion document explaining its approach to recovering costs through licensing fees, and how this might be improved along with related issues, and has invited public input to assist in presenting its case to government.
The Commission's statement notes:
"We hope that, by providing greater transparency about the way in which the Commission and indeed previous governments set about determining the fees needed for full cost recovery, stakeholders will be able to feed in any suggestions or proposals for improvements at this formative stage."
The Commission's consultative initiative on this issue will include a meeting with trade associations later this (September) month, and an open invitation for interested parties to submit suggestions and views before October 27 to discussion@gamblingcommission.gov.uk.

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