Gambling Commission cuts costs by 4.2 per cent
As the regulator published its annual report for 2009/10, the focus of attention for many in the industry was trained automatically on costs.
GAMBLING COMMISSION A
ccording to the Gambling Com- mission’s latest annual report, expenditure at
the regulator has fallen in the last 12 months by 4.2 per cent. The total operating cost was identified as £13.37m compared with the previous figure of £13.95m. The regulator claimed that expenditure has been reduced in line with the decreasing income profile: “As we continue to stream- line our operational activity we have managed to reduce operating costs by £0.58m since 2009-10. Areas of sig- nificant variation compared to the previous year are as follows. Employee costs for 2010-11 were £8.67m (2009- 10 £8.98m), £0.31m (3.5 per cent) lower than the prior year. Other operating costs for 2010-11 were £3.68m (2009-10 £3.89m), £0.21m (5.5 per cent) lower than the prior year.” Total income from fees and other sources was up by 7.4 per cent to £13.3m for the year (2009-10: £12.4m). Operator application fee
income for the year amounted to £0.8m, a 29 per cent increase on the previ- ous year (2009/10). “In accordance with our accounting policies, fees for the current year have been recognised amounting to £0.6m for personal licences and £11.9m for operator annual licence fees,” said the Commission.
In her summary of the
year, chief executive Jenny Williams claimed that the regulator has made ‘steady progress’ with its licence holders and other regula- tors in establishing the most appropriate means of meeting the licensing objec-
Given that the main criticism from the industry’s operators is that the regulator is too expensive, especially to smaller firms, it is little wonder that the Gambling Commission is making a virtue of the fact that it has been cutting costs. However, some would argue that the number of online operators going offshore, combined with the reduction in numbers of smaller operators should naturally see such a reduction anyway. The challenge will be with the next report where the Commission will have to justify losing the £250,000 Totesport licence fee, yet still be required to regulate its 515 shops, albeit under the Betfred banner.
tives. “We have seen improvements in the way operators prevent under- age gambling; firm enforce- ment action against illegal machine suppliers and users of inside information,” she said, adding: “Our efforts to encourage compliance while disrupting and ulti- mately punishing non-com- pliant or illegal activity are starting to tell.”
She continued: “Increased understanding of the Act amongst gambling operators as well as within the Commission has enabled the focus of our reg- ulatory activity to shift towards higher impact oper-
ators and issues. This, com- bined with streamlining and improving our working practices, reduces our costs and increases our capacity to advise DCMS and the gov- ernment on issues such as the implications of changes to regulating remote gam- bling, and changes to stakes and prizes (we saved £0.6m during the course of this year, mainly the result of the public sector recruitment freeze). Such savings will not be sustainable in the longer term if we are to con- tinue to deliver the licensing objectives in the face of con- tinuing legal and technolog- ical challenges.” On the outlook, Williams predicted: “The coming year promises to be as interest- ing and demanding as the last 12 months - with, for example, continuing eco- nomic pressures on the industry, licensing authori- ties, the police and our- selves; decisions on the review of remote gambling; the forthcoming Commis- sion/ NLC merger and a rapidly evolving technologi- cal and international regula-
PHILIP GRAF: LOOKING ‘TO
DELIVER EVER MORE EFFECTIVE
COURT CASE LOOMING
Summonses have been served by the Gambling Commission on three men aged 39, 48 and 57 with regard to a total of 42 offences under the Gambling Act following an investigation into the suspected illegal provi- sion of facilities for gam- bling without an operating or premises licence being in place. The investigation included the seizure of gaming machine equip- ment and other assets by the Commission, from ten premises operated by Agora Bet Ltd at loca- tions in London, the south east and the south midlands in May 2010. The three men will appear before Birming- ham Magistrates Court on 7 October 2011.
tory landscape. We will continue to use our resources and powers pro- portionately to ensure that the ever-changing gambling industry remains well regu- lated and the licensing objectives are met.
Philip Graf, in his chair-
man’s introduction, com- mented: “I have been impressed and encouraged by the enthusiasm and pro- fessionalism of Commission employees since taking up my role in April this year and by the openness and warmth of my welcome from those I have met in the gambling world. I look forward to meeting more of our stake- holders and to working with my colleagues to deliver ever more effective regula- tion in this changing and demanding world.”
Problem gambling funding simplified T
he convoluted and expensive tripartite agreement behind the gambling industry’s funding of problem gambling treat- ment, research and educa- tion has crumbled, hopefully leaving a more streamlined process in its wake.
The tripartite agreement was introduced a few years ago to ensure independence in the research, education and treatment of problem gambling. Whereas before the industry fundraising body (then called RIGT) dis- tributed the funds it raised where it saw fit, the new structure saw the funds raised by the industry through the (now renamed) GREaT Foundation pass straight onto the Responsi-
FORMER GALA CORAL CHIEF NEIL GOULDEN IS CHAIRMAN OF GREAT
ble Gambling Fund (RGF) for distribution in areas decided by the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB).
However, last month the 12 BettingBusinessInteractive • AUGUST 2011
RGF gave notice that it was terminating the funding agreement with GREaT. A spokesperson said: “Our trustees found that the tri- partite arrangement set up after the review of research, education and treatment of problem gambling in 2008 to be unworkable and that they were unable to operate with the degree of independence consistent with their gover- nance documents and their duties under charity law.” Much of the work that the RGF decided to do in the research sphere (under the guidance of the RGSB) has not always been well received, but there are plans being developed to ensure that GREaT is able to manage the current grants and con-
tracts come next March. The spokesperson said:
“We have made commit- ments that extend over a number of years and we urge the industry-led fund raising body to honour these. GREaT have already told us that they will give us their help and support in making the best possible continuing arrangements for our benefi- ciaries.”
However, it appears the
RGF’s relationship with GamCare, the lead service provider in the treatment of problem gambling, has been fractious to say the least. It has been so bad that William Hill has even mentioned it in it submission to the Culture Media Sport Select Commit- tee. The bookmaker said that
it perceived: “…a policy at RGF of trying to marginalise GamCare and to reinterpret problem gambling as part of the wider public health agenda which will only serve to dilute the effectiveness of the structure and prevent effective and expert inter- vention.”
Before the tripartite agree- ment, the system for raising and distributing funds cost £361,000 per annum. After it was introduced this shot up to £747,000 across the three bodies. Hopefully, a stream- lined system involving just GREaT and its service providers will see more money being spent on tack- ling the issue of problem gambling rather than point- less bureaucracy.
FRENCH LAW CRITICISED
The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has warned France over the inequali- ties between its online and offline gambling laws after a ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). Pool betting website Zeturf is being prosecuted under the old French gambling laws, which the CJEU says con- tradict European laws. Sigrid Ligné, secretary general of the EGBA, said: “The ruling confirms that Member States have to choose between either a monopoly with policies which are genuinely designed to reduce gam- bling opportunities or a well regulated market where also EU operators can provide their serv- ices. It is a clear question of consistency.”
SHOPS UP DESPITE FALLING REVENUES
Figures released by the Gambling Commission suggest that the number of betting shops in the UK has risen to 8,927 by the end of 2010 a jump of around 100 shops com- pared to the start of the year. However, during the period October 2009 to September 2010, the number of LBO employ- ees dropped by 8 per cent to 54,383 and simi- larly the amount of off course betting turnover over the period fell by 9 per cent to £9,188m. Overall the British gambling industry, as regulated by the Com- mission, generated a gross gambling yield of £5.6bn; a 5 per cent reduction on the same period the previous year.
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