Commission makes changes to put 'customer first'
The Gambling Commission has said it intends to take "robust and effective" action against companies who fail to meet the necessary standards as the body unveiled its new enforcement strategy on Wednesday.
The industry's regulator said it wants to make sure operators put customers first.
The key changes, which follow a four-month consultation that concluded in April, include increased financial penalties for breaches, especially in cases of "systemic and repeated failings".
The commission said it would remove the bias towards settlement (whereby an operator accepts its failings and offers proposals to the commission to rectify them) by putting all regulatory tools, including licence review, on an equal footing.
In its response to the consultation the commission said settlement had become accepted and expected, and its repeated use "is not creating sufficient deterrent".
The regulator also said it would use time-limited discounts to create better incentives for early settlement.
Gambling Commission chief executive Sarah Harrison said: "We'll use the full range of enforcement powers to ensure operators put customers first and raise standards.
"The industry can be assured we'll use our powers in a targeted way, and consumers and the public can be assured we'll take robust and effective action when gambling companies don’t meet their obligations."
Harrison is no stranger to imposing heavy penalties as a regulator. When she was senior partner in charge of enforcement at energy regulator Ofgem in 2014, six energy companies were fined a total of nearly £55 million for failing to meet their obligations.
The move is the latest example of a clampdown on the betting industry by regulators. Last month the Competition and Markets Authority said it was launching enforcement action against five companies, including Ladbrokes and William Hill, over unfair sign-up promotions.