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Regulation and oversight

Widespread adoption of best practice through regulatory frameworks

Regulators and other accountable bodies (such as those who provide oversight or inspection of treatment services) have a key role to play to deliver progress across the strategy.

Regulation and oversight reinforces the public health approach, by making the most of increasing evidence through research and evaluation, facilitating the sharing of good practice, and enabling widespread adoption using existing regulatory frameworks.

The Gambling Commission has a statutory licensing objective to protect children and vulnerable people and has committed to work to prevent harm to consumers and the public from gambling. We apply a range of regulatory tools and levers to make gambling safer, which include both requirements for and restrictions on product, place and provider, from the start of the customer journey.

The Commission as the national regulator plays a key role to make gambling safer and reduce gambling harms, as outlined in the Commission’s corporate strategy (PDF opens in new window) Making gambling fairer and safer. However, the regulation and oversight of activity to reduce gambling harms also goes beyond the Gambling Commission’s remit. It ranges from the shared regulation of gambling premises with Licensing Authorities, to work with other national regulators in areas such as advertising and other industries that facilitate gambling, such as financial services.

Regulators have a range of tools available to facilitate the adoption of best practice, including stopping provision or practices based on evidence of harm. Other bodies also have an interest in reducing gambling harms, and effective partnerships with regulators and other public bodies are essential to harness the potential of regulatory frameworks and standards to reduce gambling harms. Regulators and other public bodies have a role to assess, understand and evaluate existing practices to find evidence of what does and doesn’t work, and take action to prevent harmful practices where evidence exists. 

Partnership actions

To work with and support regulators and other bodies

Regulators such as the Advertising Standards Authority or the Competition and Markets Authority have a continued role to prevent unfair practices and inappropriate advertising which present an increased risk of harm to vulnerable consumers.

As the system for treatment services develops and expands, the role of oversight/ inspection will become increasingly important.

The Commission will continue to work with these regulators and will further develop working relationships with a range of other bodies.

To support effective local regulation

Licensing authorities have a co-regulatory role. The Commission will continue to support the important work of licensing authorities to implement an effective regime of premises inspection and enforcement to ensure operators are protecting young and vulnerable persons.

This work includes developing and actively applying statements of licensing policy on how they exercise their functions. These statements allow licensing authorities to reflect locally specific gambling concerns and set out clear expectations for local gambling operators to protect consumers and the wider public.

This strategy forms the basis of the Gambling Commission’s safer gambling priorities. We will expect gambling operators to demonstrate how they are supporting and delivering the strategy through raised standards in compliance, including evidence of ongoing trials and evaluation of safer gambling activities, evidenced through the assurance statement process and our ongoing compliance activity.

As set out in the Commission’s strategy for 2018–21, we will continue to require operators to assess and improve protections designed to prevent gambling harm and support consumers who need help to manage or control their gambling.

Whilst we expect that over time, the developing framework for measuring gambling-related harms will inform where preventative measures should be targeted, we are committed to other actions to make progress as this work continues. This includes driving live environment trials of preventative interventions as part of the research programme as well as industry-based interventions, such as proactive safer gambling messages to consumers, the design of products and games, and the availability and promotion of safer gambling tools.

Where there is clear evidence of what works to reduce the risk of gambling harms, the Commission will expect widespread adoption by operators, and we will use the full range of our regulatory tools to deliver appropriate consumer protections.

Where we have concerns about practices which might cause harm, we may adopt a precautionary approach to restrict these practices. Where there is conclusive evidence of practices known to cause harm, which are not being mitigated, we will take action to restrict or prevent these in order to reduce harm.

We will continue to assess the effectiveness of controls and tools to support customers to manage or to cease gambling. This will involve continued work with gambling operators to identify and implement improved information and signposting to help and support. And we will continue to hold to account licensees who do not take sufficient action to mitigate against the harms caused by gambling, or take account of lessons learned, using the full range of our enforcement powers, as evidenced by the increasing levels of financial penalties for regulatory failure.


Focus in year 1 

  • To use existing regulatory frameworks to make faster progress to reduce gambling harms. Recent regulatory changes include new Gambling Commission requirements on the identification of customers by remote operators and strengthening customer interaction requirements. Recent calls for evidence on the use of gambling blocking software, credit cards in online gambling, and category B gaming machine player protections have also been published to enable us to understand more about the impact they have on gambling harms, and apply further preventive actions.
  • To work with a range of partners, to consider the findings of recent research on the links between gambling and suicide, and recommend next steps and priority actions in terms of prevention and treatment interventions to address those links.
  • To work with relevant regulators to review the findings from the research into the impact of gambling on children and vulnerable people and develop appropriate policy responses.

Emerging work

  • Further consultations on the developing regulatory framework for preventative action.
  • Establishing a joint group to identify solutions to resolve the challenges around premises inspection and enforcement in Scotland, to maximise the delivery of the Strategy.

Identified gaps being addressed

  • Understanding the impact of industry-based interventions, such as safer gambling messages to consumers, the design of products and games, and the availability and promotion of safer gambling tools to reduce harms.

Key milestones/activities

  • Assessment of the effectiveness of current player protections on category C and D machines (Year 1, Q2)
  • Implementation of Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice changes to strengthen requirements for customer interaction (Year 1, Q3)
  • Making changes to the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice to better target and co-ordinate industry funding for research, prevention and treatment, and to improve operator standards in reducing the risk of consumers experiencing harms associated with gambling (Year 1, Q3)
  • Assessing gambling operators’ support for delivering the strategy through the Assurance Statement process, in terms of analysis and setting priorities (Year 1, Q4)