The Gambling Business Group has revealed financial sanctions just short of £60m were issued by the UK Gambling Commission over a five and a half period, following a freedom of information request.

It comes after the submission of the FOI request by GBG which followed an initial approach by the UK’s gambling regulatory body. In total, between June 2014 and December 2019, the UKGC issued £58,946,578 in penalties.

Gambling Business Group CEO, Peter Hannibal, explained the background of the FOI request and its implications for the sector: “When we first wrote to the then Minister, Tracey Crouch and subsequently requested the information from the Commission, we were informed (by the Gambling Commission) that they did not consider it to be a priority. 

“Under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), citizens have the right to request information from any publicly funded body and to get answers, which I’m pleased to say we have now received.

“Apart from the straightforward issue of why did it take an FOI request to get this information in the first place, it appears that the Commission does not have an independent process in place for checking whether the funds they have allocated to socially responsible purposes have been spent effectively and have delivered the impact intended. 

“This is despite the fact that within the Commission’s own Statement of Principles there is an obligation to meaningfully evaluate the effectiveness of the spend on socially responsible purposes.”

From these funds, the Gambling Commission has taken £756,997 to cover their own costs in carrying out the investigations, while £24m of the penalties has been returned to those who fell victim to illegal gambling activity.

Just under £35m was divided up to agreed ‘socially responsible purposes’ as per the Commission’s statement of Principles for determining financial penalties (June 2017). 

He added: “One of the few things that all stakeholders in UK Gambling can agree on is that all RET financial resources are vitally important and should be spent where they are most effective in reducing and preventing harm. 

“Whether these funds are raised through donations, or via a levy, or as in this case through financial penalties, all funds are equally valuable and should as a result be subject to effective valuation.”