The UK Gambling Commission published its annual report for 2008-2009 this week, revealing that a total of 520 operating licences were issued during the year, mainly to small operators or converted lottery licences, of which the majority went to land betting operators, gaming machine suppliers and society lotteries.
As at 31 March 2009, a total of 4 166 operating licences were active. In addition 4 271 personal licences were issued.
The Commission's Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice were revised, setting out the regulatory framework within which licensed operators must provide facilities for gambling. The new edition of LCCP came into force on 1 January 2009.
Other important achievements during the year included:
* Significant progress made in implementing a risk based approach to compliance and enforcement – as acknowledged by the Hampton Implementation Review;
* The Commission's recommendations on research, education and treatment were accepted and the new Responsible Gambling Strategy Board set up;
* A revised Guidance to Licensing Authorities was published which reflected the Commission's experiences in applying the Gambling Act to date;
* Completion of an initiative aimed at streamlining the organisation to improve its efficiency as a regulator.
Issues considered over the year included primary gambling activity, house lotteries, whether bingo machines are gaming machines, betting in pubs, and betting integrity particularly in sports betting. Time and effort was invested in developing a better understanding of the interpretation and practical implications of the 2005 Gambling Act, making sure that the gambling industry understands the need to comply with licensing objectives, especially in an industry challenged by world-wide economic recession.
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The Commission's valuable research projects have produced a stream of useful gambling industry statistics which are published from time to time, and the Commission has prepared a separate publication alongside the report and accounts for 2008/09 to cover gambling statistics for the year 1 April 2008 to 31 March 2009. This includes basic information on each industry sector – betting, bingo, casinos, gaming machines and arcades, lotteries and remote gambling, and will be published soon.
The Commission has also revamped its website at www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk, which is now split more easily into the different gambling sectors following consistent feedback requesting this change. There will also be a new section for licensing authorities.