UK Gambling Commission Wants More Punitive Powers

Watchdog wants powers to impose fines for advertising contraventions by operators

The Telegraph newspaper reported Thursday that the UK Gambling Commission is seeking new powers to fine bookmakers for breaches of advertising regulations as part of a wide-ranging consultation aimed at better protecting consumers.

Part of the watchdog’s argument is that it needs such powers in order to raise gambling advertising standards through the viable threat of punitive action. Gambling advertising and sports sponsorship is one of several high profile gambling issues in the UK at present, generating media coverage that is not always positive.

Among the Commission’s objectives is the prevention of email or text marketing spam.

Neither the Commission or the Advertising Standards Authority currently have power to fine transgressors, although they can publicly rebuke operators for contraventions. There have been non-advertising issues with operators where the Commission has agreed to substantial financial settlements, but the power to impose hefty fines will strengthen the regulator’s hand.

The need for additional powers, along with consumer protection and a more effective player disputes system, is the subject of a consultation open until April 22 in which consumers, gambling businesses and industry experts are being asked to contribute.

Sarah Gardner, the Commission’s executive director, said: “We are proposing these changes because of the risk of consumer harm, concern about lack of compliance with consumer protection legislation, declining public trust in gambling and concerns about advertising.”