Insight: Harrison brings new energy to UKGC

Insight: Harrison brings new energy to UKGC

Wednesday, January 27, 2016 Totally Gaming
Sarah Harrison is keen to further her knowledge of the industry at ICE

Sarah Harrison may well have jumped from the immersion heater into the fire when she switched from her role as senior partner at energy regulator Ofgem to become the chief executive of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) late last year.

With huge changes to taxation and licensing having come into effect in the previous 12 months, as well as continued criticism of the sector from many, leading the regulation of the gambling industry would be enough to send most looking for the warmth of a comfort blanket.

Effective regulation of the sector is imperative, and so Harrison has spent the last four months becoming familiar with its major concerns, operators and personalities.

Now Harrison plans on making the most of next week’s ICE Totally Gaming event by meeting key individuals from within the industry and her contemporaries from around the world, and using her opening address at the World Regulatory Briefing conference to give an update on the implementation of Point of Consumption (PoC) legislation.

 “I think it’s been a very successful year under the PoC regime as we’ve bolstered our regulatory framework in a number of ways,” Harrison told TotallyGaming.com.

“The public and consumers have benefited from greater levels of confidence and protection in gambling products marketed in the UK as a result of the changes. Also, responsible operators have benefited from an attractive, permissive, legal market allowing them to provide a wide range of products with - compared to many other jurisdictions - fewer prescriptive requirements.”

As well as progress over the last year, Harrison will also outline the UKGC’s main targets for 2016, which centre on the positioning of social responsibility at the heart of the industry, not least through the introduction of annual assurance statements.

“Responsible gambling and dealing with illegal activity will continue to be the main focus for us in 2016 and this is consistent with our statutory duties,” she said.

“This year we will see 40 of the major UK operators - representing 80 per cent of the market - delivering their first assurance statements, the purpose of which is to improve operator board level members’ focus on, and accountability for, achieving the licensing objectives.

“Amongst other things, we expect an operator to demonstrate within their statement that they have taken measures to identify and tackle ‘at-risk’ and problem gambling and to evaluate their progress in mitigating the risks.

“We would like to see much greater pace and clear evidence that operators are applying the same kind of intellectual and commercial expertise, and innovation, to social responsibility that they bring to efforts to compete in the market.”  

Harrison also wants to use the next year to forge links with her counterparts in other countries, learning from their successes while also passing on experience accrued within the UK market

“There is much to share and learn - in particular from those jurisdictions looking to move to point of consumption regulation,” she said.

“There is good work which my colleagues and others are progressing with the multi-jurisdictional testing framework which can smooth further the process for international operators and give greater consumer assurance.”

* ICE Totally Gaming takes place at London's ExCel Centre from February 2-4. For updates on ICE 2016 and to register for tickets, visit: www.icetotallygaming.com

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