Government moves to increase Gambling Commission Fees

Bingo Hall owners affected by changes in gambling regulation on October 2021.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) held a consultation from January 2021 to March 2021 on proposals for changes to Gambling Commission fees. Questions and responses were collated from trade associations, licensed gambling operators, members of the public, academics and representatives of the House of Lords (Peers for Gambling Reform). A total of 24 responses from the commission were offered:

This document details all the information in full.

Summarised

  • Increase annual fees for remote operating licences by 55% on 1 October 2021.
  • Increase all application fees by 60% from 1 October 2021.
  • Removing annual fee discounts for combined and multiple licences on 1 October 2021.
  • Increase annual fees for non-remote operating licences by 15%, with implementation of these increases delayed until 1 April 2022.

How are Bingo Hall owners affected by the changes?

Paul Swindon, of the Bingo Association, has highlighted key areas which directly impact bingo hall expenses.

In response to the question “Do you agree that annual fees should be increased in line with the proposals set out here, in order to enable the Commission to meet the challenges it has identified?” the commission responded:

A number of respondents said that any increases in non-remote fees should only be linked to inflation. However, the Commission’s costs have been increasing since the last review of fees in 2017 due to the increasing complexity of regulatory activity as well as inflation. With the exception of a number of non-remote bingo operators and larger operators in the market, the vast majority of licensees received reductions in annual fees in 2017, and annual fees for certain types of operator, such as most society lotteries and on-course bookmakers, have not increased since 2007. Given the increases in the Commission’s costs since 2017, it is no longer possible to hold nonremote fees at their current levels.

The government is reviewing the Gambling Act and the structure of licensing fees. One of the issues is whether the structure should be more flexible. However the Commission feels it needs an increase to fees under the current structure to ensure that it is able to regulate effectively at present time.

The commission was asked “Do you agree with the proposals to increase the additional flat fees for licences that combine remote casino, bingo and/or virtual event betting (RNG licenses), and the flat fees for those that combine host licences?” their answer was as follows:

The additional flat fees for combinations of RNG licences provide a discount to such operators, particularly larger operators, compared to charging fees individually for each of the casino, bingo and virtual betting licences. The arrangement for charging additional flat fees for such combined licences (in place of individual fees per licence type) was introduced to acknowledge that there is a synergy between casino, bingo and virtual betting products in that they all rely to a large extent on similar game software.

The additional flat fees are however necessary to recover costs not covered by the principal fee (which is based on the total GGY across all RNG licence activities), for example where there are differences in the game mechanics between casino, bingo and virtual betting products and where different or additional types of regulatory activity are necessary (for example casino operators are subject to money laundering regulations). The Commission frequently receives queries concerning whether a product is gaming or betting, and some of the Commission’s remote technical standards will only apply to certain types of RNG product (e.g. in-play betting in respect of virtual sports). In addition, a remote operator’s casino customer base may be quite different to its bingo or virtual betting customer base, which can point to different types of risks among its customers. These factors mean it is necessary to charge a fee for the additional regulatory work necessitated by the different types of RNG product.

The government intends to introduce the proposals in October 2021.

Application and Annual Fees

The new application and annual fees for each type of operating licence and fee category are summarised in this document.

See page 20 and beyond for fee information.

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Patrick Sheerin

Patrick Sheerin