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UKGC CEO Highlights Progress against Black-Market Operators

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has made significant strides in combating illegal online gambling operations, highlighted in a recent speech by CEO Andrew Rhodes . The UKGC oversees an industry with a gross value exceeding £15 billion ($18.84 billion) and involving over 22.5 million adult participants. Despite its economic significance, the gambling sector faces ongoing challenges in balancing individual freedoms with public protection.



The Regulator Fully Supports the Upcoming White Paper



Rhodes highlighted the pressing need for updated regulations in the UK, noting that the current legal framework could no longer offer adequate consumer protection in the face of a rapidly evolving industry. He stated that the upcoming White Paper would modernize regulations and address emerging issues in the digital age, prioritizing customer safety.



Rhodes emphasized the UKGC’s proactive approach in implementing the White Paper’s recommendations. These include new rules for online game design to make slots safer, banning features like ‘turbo’ and ‘slam stops ,’ and requiring real-time display of net spend and gambling time for consumers. Additionally, direct marketing measures will empower customers to control the types of gambling marketing they receive.




“ The need to make sure people are also protected has been particularly intense, as the Government has reviewed the 2005 Gambling Act for the first time. ”
Andrew Rhodes, UKGC CEO



The UKGC also remains committed to improving age verification for land-based gambling, increasing the age-check threshold from 21 to 25 years , effective August 2024 . Furthermore, new rules will extend the requirement for personal management licenses to a broader range of operator staff starting November 2024. Light-touch financial vulnerability checks and enhanced financial risk assessments are other vital measures for fostering a better, consumer-focused market.



The UKGC Will Ramp Up Efforts against Illegal Entities



According to Rhodes, the UKGC’s comprehensive strategy to tackle illegal online gambling faced significant success . The regulator successfully disrupted unlicensed operators targeting British consumers, collaborating with law enforcement and other government bodies. Notably, the UKGC’s efforts have led to significant penalties , including the shutdown of illegal Facebook lotteries and substantial fines for organizers.



In 2023 alone, the UKGC issued 452 cease-and-desist notices , referred over 7,000 URLs to Google for removal from search results, and achieved 212 successful disruption outcomes against illegal gambling operations. Enforcement activity has increased by over 500% since 2021, demonstrating the Commission’s commitment to making illegal gambling at scale unsustainable.




“ This work includes, where necessary, threatening disruption and criminal prosecution and identifying marketing affiliates on social media and getting those removed too. ”
Andrew Rhodes, UKGC CEO



Looking ahead, Rhodes outlined the UKGC’s new Corporate Strategy , which focuses on using data and analytics for more effective regulation, enhancing core operational functions , setting evidence-based requirements for licensees, and proactively addressing issues. The strategy also emphasizes regulating a successful National Lottery and ensuring the UKGC has the right resources to regulate effectively.

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