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Operators Hit with Licence Fee Increases

Gambling Commission Gets a Financial Boost

This week, the UK government released its response to a consultation on how much gambling operators should pay the Gambling Commission. It has decided that both online and land-based operators must both pay more.

On Monday, 14th June 2021, the UK government published its decision on its consultation relating to the funding of gambling regulation.

Each year, gambling operators must pay an annual fee to the UK Gambling Commission, and following the government’s recent decision, they will have to shell out up to 55% more.

Why the rise?

The government believes that increasing operator fees will help the regulatory body better cover the rising cost of its ongoing work, as well as allow it to respond to new technological developments (like payment and product innovation) and new risks. In addition, it has been tasked by the Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office with addressing several areas for improvement, including improving its use of intelligence and data.

The last time that the fees were reviewed was in 2017.

How much more will operators have to pay?

The 2005 Gambling Act requires operators to pay an annual fee before the anniversary date of their operating licence. If the fee is not paid in full, the operating licence is suspended.

There are different fee bands that take into account the various licence activities that each operator may hold such as bingo, gaming machines within adult gaming centres and general betting.

The new fees will come into effect on 1st October 2021 for online operators whose fee bands are increasing by 55%. In comparison, land-based operator fee bands will only rise by 15% and will not come into effect until 6th April 2022 due to the financial hit that such businesses have suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further changes that the government have announced are the removal of discounts for operators applying for licences for multiple activities and a 60% increase in application fees.

The Gambling Commission has welcomed the government’s decision, stating that it is “a relatively small regulator, and gambling is a fast-moving industry which must be regulated effectively”.

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