It’s not uncommon for headlines involving gambling companies to talk about fines issues due to a transgression of the United Kingdom Gambling Commission rules and regulations. It is often a figure in the millions of pounds, but what is done with the money? It’s a complicated question, the answer to which depends on the issue that led to the fine in the first place.
Often the money is given to the victims of crime in the case of problem gamblers stealing or using other nefarious means to get hold of money, for example. Other fines will be paid towards efforts to reduce gambling related harm or towards similar charities that are aimed at helping and protecting vulnerable people, where such a move would be relevant.
Repaying The Proceeds Of Crime
One of the chief places that money earned by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission in the form of fines goes is to the victims of crimes. Problem gamblers are often so lost in the world of wanting to place their next bet or to make back their losses that they’ll get hold of that money anyway they can. That often involves committing crimes against loved ones and strangers.
Whether it be embezzlement of money from businesses, the stealing of it from friends and family or some other method, there are often victims of crimes when people get hold of vast sums of money with which to gamble. It is the job of betting companies to understand where money is coming from that people are placing wagers with and when they don’t that’s a problem.
It is in such instances that the Gambling Commission issues fines to companies that have willingly accepted deposits of money without having any inkling where it has come from. The fines are then used, at least in part, to pay back the people who were the victims of fraud, embezzlement or robbery in order to ensure that they’re not out of pocket.
In addition to repaying the victims of crime, one of the UKGC’s major aims is to ensure there is plenty of funding given towards social responsibility programmes. Whilst the exact nature of what all of these programmes actually are isn’t clear, what we can say is that the money is often used to fund the likes of charities that look to help problem gamblers.
Gambling operators have a duty of care to their customers, which includes ensuring that they have not been enticed into gambling more than they can afford, as well as making sure that if they are displaying signs of being a problem gambler then it is dealt with appropriately. If a bookmaker fails to do this then the Gambling Commission can fine them appropriately.
Is It Distributed Successfully?
Whether or not the Gambling Commission is successful in its aim to redistribute the money in an appropriate manner is something that is up for debate. According to a Freedom Of Information Act request, the UKGC issued financial sanctions that resulted in more than £58 million being paid by operators over a five and a half year period
The period in question was between June 2014 and December 2019, with the majority of money coming towards the end of that period owing to the fact that the Gambling Commission was cracking down harder and harder on operators not living up to their responsibilities. Over that period the money was distributed as follows:
- £756,997 went towards the UKGC’s operating costs for the various investigations that led to the fines being issued
- Approximately £24 million was paid out to the victims of crimes from illegal activity in gambling
- The vast majority of the money in the sum of £34,843,338 was paid towards ‘socially responsible purposes’
Whilst the near £35 million being paid towards socially responsible purposes might seem like a good and honourable thing, both the means by which the money is allocated towards different projects as well as how effective those projects are both remain something that Gambling Commission chooses not to talk about in any meaningful way.
The Commission’s own ‘Statement Of Principles’ says that there needs to be a meaningful evaluation around the effectiveness of any money spent on ‘social responsibility’, yet there is no independent process for doing so. The UKGC says that there is ‘no requirement for evaluations to be submitted’ and therefore it doesn’t have any to present.
There isn’t necessarily a suggestion that money is being used for anything other than the purposes for which it is intended, of course, but with the world of Research, Education and Treatment being one that is constantly in the public eye, the Gambling Commission may move to make what it does more transparent in the future.