HomeInsightsChanges in ownership – Who needs to know?

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Online gambling operators will often hold a combination of licences in a number of jurisdictions (largely as a result of the lack of harmonisation at an EU level). These licences ordinarily require their holders to notify and/or seek the approval of their regulator when there is a change in the ownership of the relevant licence holder, or their direct or indirect parent companies, over certain prescribed thresholds.

In Great Britain, the position is as follows:

  • ‘Key event’ notification to the Gambling Commission is required if a person (including a legal person) acquires 3% or more of a licence holder (whether such interest is held directly or indirectly).  The key event needs to be reported to the Gambling Commission as soon as reasonably practicable and in any event within 5 working days of the licensee becoming aware of the change happening.
  • The approval of the Gambling Commission is required if a person (including a legal person) acquires 10% or more of a licence holder (whether direct or indirect).  The change needs to be reported to the Gambling Commission as a key event (as above) AND a change of corporate control application needs to be submitted to the Gambling Commission within 5 weeks of the change happening (along with payment of the requisite fee).

As more and more jurisdictions look to regulate online gambling by introducing local licensing regimes, it is ever more important to ensure that businesses adopt reporting/notification policies to ensure that ownership changes (as well as other reportable events) are reported to regulators correctly and on time. Although these notifications may strike executives as routine and unremarkable, forgetting or mismanaging them can, in the eyes of the authorities, connote a lack of basic regulatory competence; a perception which could work against an operator should more substantial regulatory problems arise.

It is important for licensed businesses to put in place systems and controls to ensure notifications are met.

The Commission publishes a page on changes of corporate control which you can find here.

If you have any questions about reporting changes of ownership, or any other reporting obligation, please contact us at gambling@wiggin.co.uk