The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) faced harsh criticism over its refusal to release the results of its call for evidence on proposed affordability checks that came to an end in February 2021.
Philip Davies MP, a Conservative Party member, lambasted the regulatory body after the gambling industry watchdog turned down the Regulus Partners’ freedom of information request for disclosure of the results under the motive there was “no outstanding public interest” in releasing the data for the time being.
The wave of criticism comes at a time when the UKGC is carrying out a further consultation on affordability checks, also known as financial risk checks, which was given a start after the UK Government published its long-awaited White Paper on gambling in April 2023.
Reportedly, the 2021 call for evidence, which considered a £100 net monthly loss as the lowest likely threshold that might trigger an affordability check, ended up receiving a record number of 13,000 replies. The results of that call for evidence, however, have still not been published more than 30 months after the completion of the feedback process.
In June 2022, Julian Knight MP, who was the then-chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, asked the UKGC CEO Andrew Rhodes why the regulatory body had not published the results of the call for evidence, saying that the proposed affordability checks were an issue of great public interest. At the time, Mr Rhodes responded that he was not familiar with the reason why the results had not been officially announced.
Gambling Regulator’s Refusal to Announce Previous Consultation Results Slammed as “Unacceptable”
According to Regulus Partners’ reports, the Gambling Commission shared that the results of the 2021 call for evidence, along with the responses received during the ongoing consultation, are set to be published on its websites in due course.
Philip Davies MP also thinks that the UKGC’s refusal to release the responses from the 2021 consultation on affordability checks is quite unusual. He explained that the Commission defended its unwillingness to announce the results saying that it would be extremely hard for the watchdog to undertake the needed administration and preparation involved in the process of information publishing at this stage, considering there is “no outstanding public interest” in such a move. According to him, such behaviour is completely unacceptable, especially when it comes to an industry regulatory body that is supposed to make decisions which will eventually have an impact on the lives of a huge number of people.
Mr Davies also said he remained hopeful that an appeal was made to the Information Commissioner who has the power to order the country’s gambling regulator to immediately publish the required responses that have been kept secret for more than two years.
The Racing Post has approached the UK Gambling Commission for comment on the situation. A spokesperson for the industry watchdog said that the regulator intended to publish the results of the earlier consultation alongside the results of its ongoing call for evidence regarding financial risk. The current consultation of the UKGC is set to close on October 18th.
Olivia Cole has worked as a journalist for several years now. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.