UK MP Philip Davies Slams Gambling Commission
“It is clear that the Gambling Commission – whose leaders know nothing about gambling – are out of control.” UK MP Philip Davies has spoken out to UK lawmakers against the gambling commission.
It doesn’t happen often, but the UK Gambling Commission occasionally attracts the wrong type of attention from MPs. This week is just such a case as MP Philip Davies blasted the Commission on the back of a newspaper report published in the Racing Post. The article told the story of Joe Beevers, a poker player, and bettor.
According to Beevers, upon supplying his bank statements to comply with source-of-funds information requests at Smarkets, he was further asked to provide financial data for friends concerning transactions shown on the bank statements.
Beevers, who earns a six-figure salary, explained that the transactions were unrelated to gambling and immaterial, respective to his income and in relation to his gambling spending. However, Smarkets didn’t accept this, telling Beevers to withdraw his funds if he wouldn’t supply his friend’s bank statements.
Previously, Beevers had also encountered issues withdrawing a large sum from Betfair. Suggesting that more than one site is experiencing implementation issues with Anti Money Laundering and source of funds rules and regulations.
What does this have to do with the Commission? Well, in the words of a Smarkets statement, in response to the Racing Post, “We respect our customers’ right to privacy but unfortunately in some circumstances we are obligated to ask for specific and detailed information to comply with our licence conditions, which we appreciate can feel intrusive.”
The caution displayed by Smarkets follows a £630,000 UK Gambling Commission fine the company received in August 2022 for AML and social responsibility failings. According to the Commission, Smarkets had allowed players to deposit without undertaking sufficient source-of-funds checks. Thus, the buck stops at the Commission’s door in Davies’ eye.
MP for Shipley in West Yorkshire, Davies, argued that the Commission has overstepped, is no longer fit for purpose, and ultimately is out of control. He is not the only one to say that, in the lapse caused by the continued delay’s the government’s gambling review, the UKGC has overstepped. Especially following recent regulations which have seen UK operators leaving the market when faced with max stakes on slot spins, credit card bans, and other more restrictive rules.
The Betting and Gambling Council (BGC), a consortium of UK operators who make up 90% of the licensed market, have argued that such measures coincide with an increase in black market gambling, further endangering players. According to BGC research, based on data collected in 2020, offshore spending has doubled in a year, and the number of players using offshore sites has increased in two years from 210,000 to 460,000. However, the Commission’s attitude has long been that the fear of black market growth will not derail its attitude toward regulating and putting player safety first.
UK White Paper
The government’s illusive and upcoming White Paper is set to clarify issues such as affordability checks and per-player budgets and update gambling laws for the modern age. This is expected to add further guidance on how operators should conduct financial checks on consumer accounts, clarifying any ongoing ambiguity.