The UKGC’s Three-Year Corporate Strategy

The UKGC’s Three-Year Corporate Strategy - Banner
Simon Wooldridge
by Simon Wooldridge Last updated:

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) launched its new corporate strategy for the 2024-2027 period in April. 

This strategy, titled Gambling Regulation in a Digital Age, breaks down the UKGC's approach to delivering the proposed modifications outlined in the Gambling Act Review White Paper published last year. That's not all; the strategy also outlines how the UKGC will regulate the National Lottery now that it has a new licensee.

UKGC chair, Marcus Boyle, stated that the strategy reflects the commission's vision of fair, safe, and crime-free gambling where consumers and the wider public's interests are protected.

So, will this strategy live up to said vision? Or does it still have some way to go?

A look at the strategy's areas of focus

The UKGC's core strategies will focus on:

  • Use of data and analytics to make regulation more effective

  • Enhancing the commission's core operations

  • Setting evidence-based requirements for licensees

  • Being proactive and addressing issues at the earliest opportunity

  • Regulating a successful National Lottery

Without getting too far into the nitty gritty, here's a summary of the UKGC's commitments in each area:

Use of data and analytics to make regulation more effective

The strategy further breaks down the commission's key commitments for using data and analytics to make regulation more effective. These include:

  • The UKGC increasing its understanding of the gambling market and consumer behaviour

  • The Gambling Commission using data science methodology to improve early identification of issues and broaden their understanding of industry-wide compliance

  • The UKGC becoming a leader in understanding gambling-related harm

  • Developing internal capability to embed the use of data across all aspects of the UKGC's work

Enhancing core operational functions

The UK gambling industry is ever-evolving, and the UKGC is taking steps to deliver best practice licensing, compliance and enforcement approaches. Key commitments include:

  • Evolving regulatory work, which includes improving core processes, technology and related approaches

  • Developing its approach to assurance, including increasing transparency of industry compliance levels by theme and licensee

  • Increasing investment, resources and capacity to tackle illegal gambling

Setting clear evidence-based requirements for licensees

With the main aim of the White Paper being to protect players from gambling harm, one of the core areas of focus is to set clear evidence-based requirements for licensees to drive improved compliance. Key commitments include:

  • Delivering measures in the White Paper that the UKGC is responsible for, including improving player protection and safety

  • An increased capacity for evaluating new requirements and policies

  • Reviewing how it communicates requirements and related guidance to licensees and the public

Being proactive and addressing issues at the earliest opportunity

The UKGC will take more proactive steps to ensure gambling licensees operate within set rules and regulations. Key commitments in relation to this strategy include:

  • Investing in an activities program of activities to explore how licensees can be supported to meet their responsibilities to consumers and the wider public

  • The commission increasing the resources available to improve its understanding of issues which pose a risk to the fair and open licensing objective

Regulating a successful National Lottery

In February 2024, the UK National Lottery underwent a major change when the UKGC changed operator for the first time since it launched back in 1994.

The commission granted Allwyn Entertainment UK a licence to run the National lottery from February 2024 to January 2034, marking the beginning of the Fourth National Lottery licence.

The new National Lottery licence already included a number of changes aimed at improving the lottery for both licensee and players. The UKGC's key commitments around regulating a successful National Lottery include:

  • Completing oversight and assurance procedures regarding the transition to and implementation of the Fourth National Lottery licence

  • Embedding its regulatory approach to the Fourth National Lottery licence

  • Assessing the benefits from the new licence arrangements are realised.

What are the upsides to the new strategy?

The corporate strategy echoes the White Paper's main aim – to protect consumers while also considering operators/licensees, something which wasn't really explored in the White Paper.

The Gambling Commission deserves a pat on the back for acknowledging some of the changes in the UK gambling industry, especially when it comes to technology and incorporating its strategies to fit into the now digitised gambling industry.

With measures in place to monitor anticipated results the UKGC will be able to determine the success (or otherwise) of the strategy and respond accordingly.

Licensees, players and the wider industry will undoubtedly see changes over the next three years – changes that should be beneficial industry-wide.

What should the UKGC have improved in this strategy?

There's one major part that's missing though, the "how". The corporate strategy explains why it came up with each of the commitments and the expected results after implementing these strategies.

However, there's no breakdown of how the commission plans to execute these strategies. A good example is the plan to use data and analytics to make gambling regulation more effective. Other than mentioning that the commission will undertake an ambitious data program and invest in tools, data, and skills to meet said commitments, there really needs to be a clear breakdown of what the program, tools, data, and skills will be.

Is the Gambling Commission's Corporate Strategy what the UK gambling industry needs?

Well yes, to some degree.

The new corporate strategy clearly represents steps in the right direction. The UKGC has shown that it has its collective finger on the pulse of the evolving gambling industry. Its vision hasn't only been influenced by the White Paper. 

However, as stated, the strategy could have elaborated more on how the objective will be addressed and achieved. 

Some of it sounds a bit woolly, a bit vague, e.g. 'Being proactive and addressing issues at the earliest opportunity.' Sounds more like something that should be business as usual as opposed to a bold new strategy. 'Regulating a successful National Lottery' is another curious new strategy when you consider the Lottery has been successful since its inception 30 years ago.

There are references to player safety and protection, and reducing harm but again the 'how' seems a bit light on. How are they going to do this? 

The £2 stake limit will undoubtedly drive some players to unlicensed sites. The extent to which remains to be seen. And what are some of the potential ramifications – particularly for the vulnerable?

As gambling moves further into the online sphere how is the UKGC positioned to manage shifts in consumer/player behaviour? Particularly among the young. 

As with many things, answering questions and defining objectives inevitably leads to more questions being asked: Why isn't X being addressed? And what about Y? And this is where it seems the UKGC stands right now with its new, corporate strategy. 

Let's see how the next few months unfold.