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UK Gambling Commission's Strategic Approach to Combatting Illegal Online Gambling

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) remains steadfast in its commitment to combating illegal online gambling, aligning with the regulatory objective outlined in the Gambling Review’s White Paper. Speaking at the Westminster Media Forum on May 13, 2024, CEO Andrew Rhodes reiterated the Commission's strategy to disrupt unlicensed operators targeting consumers in Great Britain. Rhodes emphasized a proactive approach, stating, "The Commission’s approach is to identify and undertake high-impact interventions to disrupt unlicensed operators targeting consumers in Great Britain, all with a view to making it difficult to provide illegal gambling at scale."

UK Gambling Commission's Strategic Approach to Combatting Illegal Online Gambling

The Commission's strategy involves close collaboration with law enforcement agencies, including the National Crime Agency (NCA), Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), and His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), to enhance intelligence-led disruptions against unlicensed operators. Notably, cooperation with regulatory counterparts has yielded tangible results, such as the elimination of illegal Facebook lotteries and imposing penalties of £600,000 on unlicensed organizers, achieved through collaboration with HMRC.

To address regulatory violations before they escalate, the Commission has shifted its focus to "upstream disruptions." This proactive approach aims to prevent illicit activities at an early stage, effectively "upstreaming" interventions in the chain of events. Rhodes explained, "By upstreaming interventions, the Commission prioritizes actions that are risk-focused and likely to have a significant impact, causing substantial disruption to illegal gambling operations."

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The Commission employs various measures to disrupt the operations of illegal websites, including issuing cease-and-desist notices, collaborating with internet service providers (ISPs) and financial institutions, coordinating with search engines and social media platforms to block content, and pursuing legal actions against offenders. Enhanced enforcement efforts have resulted in a significant increase in regulatory actions, with a 500% increase in enforcement activities since 2022 and a tripling of the success rate in disrupting illegal websites.

Rhodes acknowledged the ongoing nature of combating illegal activity and emphasized the need for additional powers, as outlined in the Government's White Paper. He expressed confidence in progress, noting that some powers are expected to be delivered through the current Criminal Justice Bill progressing through Parliament. In conclusion, Rhodes affirmed the Commission's dedication to addressing illegal gambling and its commitment to enhancing regulatory measures to safeguard consumers and maintain integrity in the industry.



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