British court gives UKGC more freedom

The UK Gambling Commission has claimed a victory in court this week, in a ruling that gives the regulator more freedom in the way it determines which operators are granted a license.

The story so far

The tale begins when the UK’s largest pub retailer, Greene King, applied for a UKGC license to be able to run bingo games on its premises. These number about 3000 in total and are spread across the United Kingdom. Greene King also operates restaurants and hotels in the country.

The UKGC rejected Greene King’s application, stating that it had done so because it felt that having bingo games in pubs would be inconsistent with the regulator’s objectives, which focus strongly on preventing underage and problem gambling.

Greene King went on to mount a legal challenge, stating that it met all of the Commission’s licensing requirements and therefore had no reason to be rejected.

Battle in court

What followed was a back-and-forth between the two entities. First, Greene King launched its challenge, saying that because it met all licensing requirements, the UKGC had no reasonable grounds to deny it a license.

The case reached the appeal stage after it was initially decided in favour of Greene King. In the Appeals Court, the UKGC emerged victorious. The court determined that the Gambling Commission was within its rights to consider the context in which its licenses would be used and to refuse to issue that license if that context went against its objectives.

UKGC Programme Director Helen Venn welcomed the Upper Tribunal’s decision, which she maintained clarified the Commission’s powers and position. She also outlined why the UKGC was opposed to giving Greene King a license in the first place:

“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.”

Does this affect me?

Unless you were hoping to catch a bingo game at one of Greene King’s establishments, then probably not. However, this whole case shows how seriously the UKGC takes its licensing responsibilities.

Online casino players will be familiar with the excellent reputation this regulator has built for itself and this case is clear evidence that the Commission does not abandon its ethical obligations to players, even in the face of court action and other obstacles. What this means is that players – both at online and land-based casinos holding a UKGC license – can be sure that their gaming experience meets the highest of standards, thanks to this strict and vigilant regulator.