UK closes consultation on Gambling Commission merger

The UK government’s formal consultation on its proposal to merge the Gambling Commission and the National Lottery Commission closes tomorrow.

The proposal to form one gambling regulator was set out in the 2011 Public Bodies Act that passed into law last December, and is aimed at cutting the costs of and increasing accountability for public bodies.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has been inviting comments since 31 July on whether “the merger will deliver additional benefits while still maintaining effective regulation.”

The government’s preferred option is to use the powers in the 2011 Act to merge the two bodies by abolishing the National Lottery Commission (NLC) and transferring its powers to the Gambling Commission (GC).

HM government pursuing its preferred option would see it widen the remit of a body branded by MPs earlier this year as “an overly expensive, bureaucratic regulator” that had not gone far enough in efforts to reduce its operating costs.

MPs also recommended in its report in the 2005 Gambling Act that an independent review of the Gambling Commission’s expenditure “be carried out as soon as possible after a new system for remote licensing is in place.”

Government proposals for the regulation of UK online gambling by the Gambling Commission from 2014 were also criticised by MPs for being unclear over whether the Commission was intending to approve and monitor regulators in other jurisdictions or to take on the job of directly regulating and licensing operators and companies itself.

The report also cast doubts over government claims that consumer protection and not the desire to collect taxes was at the centre of the government’s desire to overhaul the existing regulatory system for online gambling, saying it had “seen no evidence that the existing White Listed jurisdictions posed a greater threat of problem gambling than UK or EU-based operators”.

Article written by Stephen Carter

Casino Choice journalist

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