The Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Tom Watson is urging that gambling operators in the UK should reapply for licenses. He recently sent a letter to the CEO of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and the Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright to discuss the issue. In his letter, he questioned the integrity of several gambling operators, most of which are running their operations from overseas territories.
The UK Labour Party believes that online casino businesses should reapply for an operating gambling license. The suggestion was made after the British gambling regulator said that over one-third of the licenses were failing their customers. It was reported last week that the UKGC had imposed huge penalty packages on four gambling businesses, amounting to £4.5 million. The penalties are a part of the regulator’s ongoing investigations into the online casino industry.
Three of the operators penalized by the gambling commission were based abroad and failed to guarantee effective safeguards that could prevent money laundering and make online gambling safer for the customers. Of the 123 online operators investigated and reviewed by the commission, 45 were asked to take further measures and submit an action plan that details how they will raise their standards.
Watson believes that all online casinos that have received a license to operate in the UK since 2014 should reapply. He thinks that an operating license is a sign of trust and credibility, and operators should not use it to push the limits of license conditions and responsibilities. Watson also suggested that the gambling regulator cannot constantly play catch-up with the industry. The industry needs to be structured better for a more efficient response, which will result in an overhaul of the current license register.
Watson further said that the offshore operators should not be able to use British licenses and close relationships with the local sporting teams as a marketing gimmick that could attract new customers.
Online gambling operations have been frequently criticized for their socially irresponsible behavior. While on the one hand, they pay approximately £120 million in sponsorship to the English Premier League football clubs, they do not respect the voluntary levies imposed on them. Recently, GambleAware, a charity which receives funding via the 0.1% voluntary levy on operators noted that it fell short of its £10 million goal. The charity will now have to cut its spending for the upcoming year to workaround the smaller-than-expected funding.