The UK Gambling Commission has been granted the right to reject gaming license applications even if they fulfil the set criteria.
Last week the UK Court of Appeal upheld an earlier decision which allows the country’s gambling regulator to reject license applications on any grounds.
The Gambling Commission is considered to be one of the best watchdogs in the world and monitors not only online casinos and land-based gambling venues in the UK, but Internet operators located offshore that are regulated by other top gambling regulators.
The country’s biggest pub retailer, Greene King, took on the Gambling Commission after its application for a bingo license, which would allow the company to offer bingo in its 3000 pubs around the UK, was denied.
The Gambling Commission said it rejected the license application as the pub retailer’s business model does not line up with the regulator’s objectives.
Greene King then filed an appeal over the decision. The company, which also runs hotels and restaurants, claimed it had satisfied the criteria required by the Gambling Commission and therefore the regulator had no right for refusal.
While Greene King initially won its case, the Gambling Commission lodged an appeal for summary judgement. The Court of Appeal ruled the Gambling Commission was entitled to reject an applicant if they were inconsistent with the regulator’s objectives even if the application did fulfil the criteria.
The Court added the watchdog does not have to issue a license to pubs if it believes it would “be harmful to the statutory licensing objectives” as detailed in the Gambling Act 2005.
The decision was handed down by CA Lord Justice Gary Hickinbottom who said the Gambling Commission “panel were able to draw upon their own expertise and experience of the relationship between gambling and alcohol – and that of the Commission’s officers – and the historic data and reports such as the Budd Report.”
CA Lady Justice Mary Arden and Lord Justice Peregrine Simon both agreed with the decision.
Greene King’s application was officially rejected and as a result, the Gambling Commission’s role in terms of licensing the industry is clearer.
UK Gambling Commission Programme Director, Helen Venn, said the regulator welcomed the decision “which clarifies the Commission’s powers” in a statement.
“In our view commercial betting, gaming and bingo and any associated high stakes and prize machines should only be provided in separate premises licensed for that specific purpose – premises that adults make a deliberate choice to visit in order to gamble,” she said.
New COO appointed for the UK Gambling Commission
Meanwhile, the watchdog has appointed a new Chief Operating Officer, David Pemberton. Mr Pemberton will be in charge of IT, HR, finance, and planning and risk for the Gambling Commission.
Pemberton previously ran Business in the Community’s regional operations and has worked for Credit Suisse, Nissan and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
“I am looking forward to contributing my experience to help shape the organisation’s skills, capabilities, structure and ways of working,” Mr Pemberton said.
“This is an exciting time to join the Commission as it increasingly focuses on putting the consumer at the heart of its work and I welcome the opportunity to play my part in that important work.’’
UK Gambling Commission Chief Executive, Sarah Harrison, welcomed Mr Pemberton to the executive team.
“He brings a wealth of expertise in leading change and developing corporate functions that are high performing and that deliver value for money,” she said.
“This work is key to ensuring we have an organisation that is both effective and efficient as we deliver on our objectives to keep gambling fair, safe and free from crime.”