New strategy unveiled for fair and safer gambling
Gambling operators have been warned by the industry regulator that they face broader and tougher sanctions if they do not treat customers fairly and make gambling safer.
The Gambling Commission unveiled a new three-year strategy on Tuesday, which it said would lay out a roadmap for "fairer and safer" gambling.
The strategy covers five priority areas including consumer protection, harm prevention and raising standards in the gambling market.
The commission said it would also look to optimise returns to good causes from lotteries as well as improve the way it regulated the industry.
Public trust and confidence in gambling is declining, the commission said, while there are also "significant public concerns" about the volume, nature and scheduling of gambling advertising.
They headed a number of challenges set out by the regulator in the strategy document which "cannot be overcome by us alone".
The commission added: "Most importantly of all, it requires all gambling operators to treat their customers fairly and to work to make gambling safer.
"Holding a licence from the Gambling Commission gives operators and individuals the right to deliver gambling products and services to consumers.
"With those rights come significant responsibilities, consistent with the impact which gambling can have on society."
On consumer protection the commission said it would use its powers "to intervene on a precautionary basis if products, licensees or processes" gave rise to concerns and would take action if operators made persistent or systemic failures.
It would "review and strengthen rules to tackle unfair and misleading practices" as well as looking for "more streamlined and simplified arrangements for dispute resolution".
On harm prevention the commission said the overall response from operators to calls for increased funding had been "slow and insufficient".
It said a mandatory levy, which it claimed had the support of some of the largest operators in the industry, would be "a fair and credible way" of addressing the shortfall should the situation not improve.
Gambling Commission chair Bill Moyes said: "This is an ambitious strategy to deliver fairer and safer gambling over the next three years. We can only be successful in this by engaging with consumers and by working closely with all our regulatory partners and the industry.
"In the same way that this strategy challenges the industry, we also challenge ourselves – as the regulator – to deliver effective, targeted and innovative regulation.
"At the end of three years we expect to see an industry that strives continuously to raise their standards, treat customers fairly, and protect vulnerable people."