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UKGC Strengthens Fight Against Illegal Gambling with Enhanced Collaborative Efforts

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) continues to uphold its rigorous strategy against illegal online gambling as outlined in the Gambling Review’s White Paper.

Collaborative Strategies for Effective Enforcement

During his address at the Westminster Media Forum on May 13, 2024, UKGC CEO Andrew Rhodes detailed the Commission’s strategic approach. “Our goal is to identify and implement high-impact interventions that challenge unlicensed operators targeting UK consumers, effectively making large-scale illegal gambling operations unfeasible,” stated Rhodes. The UKGC has leveraged partnerships with the National Crime Agency (NCA), Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), and His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to bolster intelligence-driven actions that block unlicensed operators from connecting with British consumers.

These efforts have already yielded notable successes, such as the shutdown of illegal Facebook lotteries in collaboration with HMRC, resulting in substantial penalties for the violators.

Proactive Measures to Curtail Illegal Gambling Activities

Shifting focus towards preemptive actions, the UKGC now emphasizes “upstream disruptions,” which involve addressing potential regulatory violations before they escalate. This proactive approach helps the Commission to interfere earlier in the potential development of illegal activities, aiming to significantly disrupt illicit operations. “By focusing on upstream interventions, we concentrate on risk-heavy actions that drastically limit illegal gambling operations’ ability to function,” Rhodes explained.

The UKGC employs sophisticated intelligence and software to pinpoint and act against websites with significant operations in Great Britain, particularly those that pose the greatest risk to vulnerable consumers, such as those excluded via Gamstop.

Record of Increased Enforcement and Looking Ahead

The Commission’s vigorous enforcement actions were particularly effective in 2023, with 452 cease-and-desist notices leading to the closure of numerous online platforms and social media pages. In the early months of 2024, the pace has accelerated, with 98 notices issued and numerous disruptions already achieved, showcasing a significant uptick in regulatory activities.

With enforcement actions increasing by over 500% since 2022 and a tripling in the disruption rate of illegal casino websites, the UKGC is making substantial headway. “Our battle against illegal activities is continuous, and while we anticipate additional powers from the forthcoming Criminal Justice Bill, we are already making significant progress,” Rhodes remarked.

The ongoing efforts of the UKGC underscore its commitment to evolving and intensifying its strategies to effectively combat illegal gambling, ensuring a safe and regulated environment for all stakeholders.

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