DCMS approves licence fee hikes from 1 October

The UK government has confirmed that it will increase licence fee costs across all business verticals of the UK gambling sector, with increased fees to be enforced from 1 October. 

The measure was announced by DCMS, publishing its response to a consultation launched on 29 January examining the funding structures of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).

Central to its assessment, the consultation had proposed that DCMS increase licensing fees across the board, in order for the UKGC ‘to cover its costs and address its regulatory challenges’.

Providing its response, DCMS outlined that it would proceed with the following measures:

  • Increase annual fees for remote operating licences by 55% on 1 October 2021
  • Increase all UKGC licence application fees by 60% from 1 October 2021
  • Increase annual fees for non-remote operating licences by 15%, with the implementation of these increases delayed until 1 April 2022
  • Make changes to simplify the fees system, including removing annual fee discounts for combined and multiple licences, on 1 October 2021

DCMS stated that the all-round licence fee increases were required to help the UKGC govern the industry facing a new decade of challenges in relation to new technologies changing consumer habits and governing a sector that is being radically reshaped by M&A consolidation and globalisation factors.

Furthermore, a well-resourced UKGC is needed to protect consumers and the sector’s licensed businesses from a ‘black market encroachment’.

In its analysis of the UKGC, DCMS pinpointed to an increased investment needed to improve the Commission’s staff training and overall expertise as a regulatory agency governing a high-risk sector.

“The Commission’s investment strategy will enable it to proceed with the highest priority investments. For example, in meeting the challenges posed by technological innovation, the Commission needs to invest in expertise to obtain, store and analyse data, including improving its collection of participation and prevalence data” – DCMS’ response read.

DCMS disclosed that it had received objections to licensing fees being increased, before the government finalised its review of the 2005 Gambling Act, reconfiguring the UK gambling’s laws, standards and business conditions.

Responding to objections DCMS stated that UK gambling’s flat fee licensing structures had not changed since 2009, whilst the UKGC had incurred a higher operating cost governing the sector. 

Though UK gambling has witnessed a decrease in land-based GGY due to COVID-19 pandemic and further factors, DCMS stated that a reduction in the total sizes of the industry did not imply ‘that the governing complexities of the sector had been lowered’.

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