The Gambling Business Group has revealed that the UK Gambling Commission has issued financial sanctions totalling just under £ 60m over a five-and -a-half period, following a request for freedom of information.
The submission, submitted by the GBG two years after the Commission’s initial approach, confirmed that a total of £ 58,946,578 has been approved over the aforesaid time frame between June 2014 and December 2019.
Peter Hannibal, CEO of the Gambling Business Group, explained the background of the FOI request, and what the report means: “When we first wrote to the then Minister, Tracey Crouch and subsequently requested the information from the Commission, we were informed (by the Gambling Commission) that they did not consider it to be a priority.
“Under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), citizens have the right to request information from any publicly funded body and to get answers, which I’m pleased to say we have now received.
“Apart from the straightforward issue of why did it take an FOI request to get this information in the first place, it appears that the Commission does not have an independent process in place for checking whether the funds they have allocated to socially responsible purposes have been spent effectively and have delivered the impact intended.
“This is despite the fact that within the Commission’s own Statement of Principles there is an obligation to meaningfully evaluate the effectiveness of the spend on socially responsible purposes.”
The Gambling Commission took £ 756,997 from these funds to cover its own costs in conducting the investigations, while £ 24 m of the penalties were returned to those who fell victim to illegal gambling activity.
According to the Commission Statement of Principles for the Financial Penalties (June 2017), just under £ 35 m was split up to negotiated ‘socially responsible purposes.’
He went on to add: “One of the few things that all stakeholders in UK Gambling can agree on is that all RET financial resources are vitally important and should be spent where they are most effective in reducing and preventing harm.
“Whether these funds are raised through donations, or via a levy, or as in this case through financial penalties, all funds are equally valuable and should as a result be subject to effective valuation.”