Following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request asking for information relating to the value and allocation of funds raised through Voluntary Settlements, the Gambling Commission has responded below and in the attached spreadsheet.
As we know, the future funding of Research Education and Treatment (RET) is a subject that is embroiled in apolitical tug-of-war and currently remains far from resolved. However, one of the few things that all stakeholders in UK Gambling can agree on is that all RET financial resources are vitally important and should be spent where they are most effective in reducing and preventing harm being caused by engaging in gambling. Whether these funds are raised through donations, or via a levy, or as in this case through financial penalties, all of the funds are equally valuable.
The headlines from the attached spreadsheet are as follows;
- The GC have agreed to £58,946,578 worth of financial sanctions over a five and a half year period between June 2014 and December 2019.
- As is their prerogative, the GC has taken £756,997 from these funds to cover their own (not unreasonable) costs in carrying out the investigations.
- Some £24m of the penalties has been repatriated with those who have fell victim to illegal gambling activity. These could be family members, employers or other funds that have been misappropriated.
- The other considerable proportion of these penalties amounting to £34,843,338 has been commissioned to agreed ‘socially responsible purposes’ as per the GCs Statement of principles for determining financial penalties June 2017
- However, the issue in the last FOI question below remains in that the GC do not have in place a process for checking whether the funds they have commissioned to socially responsible purposes have been spent effectively and provided the impact intended. Indeed within the GC’s own Statement of Principles (highlighted in yellow below) is an obligation to meaningfully evaluate the effectiveness of the spend on socially responsible purposes.
- Effective evaluation is an ‘Achilles Heel’ of the Gambling Industry generally. The Industry struggles to quantify whether its ‘safer gambling’ initiatives have the positive impact intended so we push ahead with things because they appear to be the right thing to do. The support charities have been looking for long term evaluation of their service provision for some years now and still find it difficult to reach conclusive answers. It appears that Effective Evaluation is just as illusive for the Gambling Regulator too.
Subject: FOI response
Thank you for your request which has been processed under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).
The Gambling Commissions response to your enquiries are as follows:
A transparent list of all financial penalties and voluntary settlements made by Licensees as a consequence of regulatory enforcement/investigations between June 2014 and December 2019.
Please see attached table for your perusal.
A similar list confirming which Research, Education and Treatment organisations these funds have been allocated to, for what purpose, identifying what proportion (if any) was retained by the Gambling Commission to cover expenses in each case.
Funds from regulatory settlements can include commitments and undertakings as well as a payment in lieu of financial penalty. This may include up to 3 sub-elements depending on the circumstances of the case. These are:
- divestment back to individuals impacted by the operator’s non-compliance with regulatory requirements. This is usually the customer or a victim of crime, where such victims can be identified. This could be for example, where an individual has stolen from their employer and has spent the money gambling and the operator has not met the regulatory requirements.
- payments made to organisations for social responsibility purposes
- recovery of the Gambling Commission’s costs.
This allocation breakdown is also set out in the attached table.
Pre-2019, in relation to organisations for socially responsible purposes, most settlements have gone to GambleAware. On our website we publish details of the destinations of funds generated from regulatory settlements that have been approved during 2019/20.
As per your own Statement of Principles for determining financial penalties June 2017 doc, Point 2.14.ix. For each of the fund allocations…….a meaningful evaluation of the effectiveness of projects or research funded by a specific regulatory settlements.
In determining destinations of regulatory settlements, the Commission considers whether there will be meaningful evaluation and whether these will be published. Most of these projects in receipt of regulatory settlements, that are complete, are already in the public domain and organisations disseminate the outcomes of work particularly where there is a research or evaluation output.
There is not a requirement for evaluations to be submitted to the Gambling Commission. Therefore, we do not hold information in relation to this part of your request.
Review of the decision
If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your Freedom of Information request and wish to request a review of our decision, you should write to FOI Team, Gambling Commission, 4th floor, Victoria Square House, Victoria Square, Birmingham, B2 4BP.
If you are not content with the outcome of your review, you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner (ICO) for a decision. Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints procedure provided by the Gambling Commission. The ICO can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.
Freedom of Information Team
Victoria Square House
Birmingham B2 4BP
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