June 27, 2019
When providing training to clients’ executive management teams and compliance teams in the last year, we have reinforced the messages contained in last year’s Enforcement Report. The Commission made the effort to try and distil its enforcement casework into guidance that is accessible and digestible and it was a welcome addition to the regulator’s output.
This year’s Enforcement Report is essential reading for everyone in the industry. The lessons the industry should be learning and, indeed, the lessons the regulator is learning from enforcement cases flows directly into ongoing compliance work. Time and time again we see operators neglect to take heed of these lessons. The Commission has made it abundantly clear that operators who fail to learn these lessons will be treated more harshly in any related enforcement process.
The report includes detailed checklists and case studies covering “safer gambling”, AML and marketing compliance, as well as another checklist on general compliance/governance.
Particularly notable is the section on affordability, a complex area which is the subject of in-depth, on-going collaboration by the regulator, trade bodies and a number of the industry’s leading operators. The Commission initially set their stall out on this in the Review of Online Gambling last year and have, slightly incongruously, chosen the Enforcement Report as a housing for 3 pages of commentary on what still remains a policy objective. Whilst we do see the issue of “affordability” mentioned in enforcement scenarios, it is still a developing area and yet to be fully installed within compliance obligations (albeit AML and safer gambling obligations in aggregate arguably cover much of the same ground).
The Commission states “we will be tough when we find operators bending the rules or failing to meet our expectations, but we also want to try and minimise the need for such action by providing advice, a programme of support material and compliance activity to help operators get things right in the first place.’’ We definitely see this happening. The last 12 months have seen a regulator far more willing to work with operators (in the context of lengthy compliance assessments) and guide them towards better compliance. Yet, there is only so much the regulator can do. At some point, operators need to look after themselves and digesting output such the annual Enforcement Report is one way to assist in that.
The Enforcement Report 2018-19 can be accessed here.