Gambling operators in the UK will face steeper licensing fees from October 1 with the government deciding to up costs for the sector after a consultation process. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Sweeping changes to fees
In bad news for gambling operators hoping to enter the UK market, officials have decided to increase license application fees starting October 1 this year.
The changes have resulted from a consultation held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) between January and March 2021. In that time, the government body received a total of 24 consultation responses from trade associations, licensed operators, and other interested parties.
The cost of non-remote operating licenses will go up 15%
The DCMS and UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) announced the agreed amendments on Monday. Starting in October, the UKGC will increase all license application fees by 60% and annual fees for remote operators by 55%. The cost of non-remote operating licenses will go up 15%, but this will only come into force in April 2022.
Officials have also agreed to implement changes to simplify the fees system. This will include removing annual fee discounts for combined and multiple licenses.
A response to new challenges
The DCMS posted the full consultation outcome to the official UK government website on Monday. It said that a fee increase would allow the UKGC to “recover its costs and respond to new challenges.”
The DCMS has outlined three specific difficulties facing the UKGC in its mission to regulate the UK gambling industry. These include increased technological developments within the industry, along with growth and consolidation in the market. The government body also noted its desire to protect customers from the risks associated with unlicensed operators.
In response to these problems, the DCMS noted that increased investment would allow the Commission to initiate additional staff training and improve its expertize as a regulatory agency. “The Commission’s investment strategy will enable it to proceed with the highest priority investments,” the consultation findings read.
Unsurpisingly, the DCMS confirmed it had received some objections to the increase in UKGC fees. However, the body argued that the rise is in line with the growing cost of managing the sector. It noted that the UK’s gambling fee structure has remained the same since 2009 despite a significant increase in gross gaming yield.
The UKGC under review
News of the fee increase comes with the UK Gambling Commission currently under government review. The DCMS began an assessment of the Gambling Act 2005 in December last year. As part of this review, the body will consider several potential changes to UK gambling law, including staking limits for online gambling and a ban on loot boxes. The DCMS will also assess the UKGC’s efficacy as a market regulator.
Sheehan will decide whether the UKGC effectively monitored and regulated the Bet Index-owned company
The Commission is also facing the heat for its role in the collapse of soccer betting company Football Index. Last Monday, the government announced the appointment of Malcolm Sheehan QC to lead an independent review into the collapse. As part of this assessment, Sheehan will decide whether the UKGC effectively monitored and regulated the Bet Index-owned company.
Sheehan will provide the findings of his review this summer. The results of this investigation will feed into the Gambling Act review.