The National Audit Office (NAO) has recently criticised the effectiveness of the gambling watchdog in the UK. The Gambling Commission has been “outgunned” by gambling companies according to the NAO, while also adding that they are not doing enough to protect people from gambling related harm. But what is the role of the gambling watchdog?
The main aim of the Gambling Commission is to “licence and regulate the people and businesses that provide gambling in Great Britain”. Two key pillars of this are to protect those who gamble and to ensure that crime stays out of the industry.
Addiction to gambling is a plight that many have suffered from. Current estimates for the risk of “problem gamblers” is at a figure of 395,000. What is more troubling though is that 55,000 of these include children. There are also estimates of another 1.8 million people who are at risk of suffering from addiction.
Currently, the gaming industry provides around £3.2 billion in tax revenues for the UK government. The approximate economic cost of problem gamblers to the government is valued at £1.2 billion which highlights the the scale of the issue.
The Gambling Commission has enforced fines on gaming companies that have failed to prevent money laundering. Large, well known brands such as William Hill have succumbed to such fines due to this. Gaming companies are forced to have stringent rules on the inflows and outgoings of money in an effort to stop this though under the regulations.
Despite such fines, there are still many questions as to whether enough is being done to protect consumers from the vices of gambling addiction.
As gaming companies produce more and more profit, which in turn is then used on further marketing material, there are fears from regulators and the government that gambling addiction could spiral out of control. Yet with the record profits and in turn, tax income, the government is unlikely to want to harm the industry too much.
Ultimately, the gambling watchdog needs to show strong leadership in regulating their economy to ensure a fair and balanced ecosystem for both the industry and its consumers.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author should not be considered as financial advice. We do not give advice on financial products.