Covid-19 Guidance & FAQ’s

NEWS
Published
Mar 30th '20
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As the situation with Covid-19 continues to impact daily life in Great Britain, the Gambling Commission is following Public Health England guidance and has told all staff to work from home until further notice.

 

  • If the Commission’s offices are closed, will my postal application be processed?

Since 17 March, the Commission have asked that people do not send in any company related documentation by post. Instead, documents should be scanned and sent in via email to your Account Manager (if original documents are required). Many relevant company related documents will already be PDFs of electronic documents so please continue to provide these by email.

 

If you have already posted an application or supporting documents to them, they are making arrangements to deal with these, and will update you about these arrangements.

 

Applications are a priority for Licensing and although the Commission teams are working from home, they have set up steps and processes to ensure they can process applications should anyone fall ill or become unable to work.

 

They will work hard to continue a good level of service, but please do bear with them should they experience increased levels of absence.

 

  • How can I make a licence application?

The Commission ask businesses and individuals to make applications online where they can.  All applications can be made online apart from:

 

  1. Change of Corporate Control applications
  2. Operating Licence Variation applications which do not include adding/removing an activity or changing a fee category.

 

If the application cannot be made online or you want to send supporting documents to them, the Commission are currently unable to deal with post. Please therefore scan and email documents to licensing@gamblingcommission.gov.uk.

 

  • Your contact details and invoicing

The Commission are currently sending invoices by email rather than post using the primary contact email address. If this email address has changed, you can tell them about this online via eServices.

 

Fees information – land-based operators

The Gambling Commission recognises the current unprecedented Covid-19 circumstances leaves the affected sectors facing uncertain and unsettling times with the closure of premises.

 

The Commission have received a number of enquiries asking for a reduction in fees or the option to pay by instalments. Unfortunately, due to the way that the fee system is structured they are not able to offer either of these options.

 

One option for reducing the fee would be for licensees to apply to decrease their fee category given the reduction in gross gambling yield (GGY). Actioning this at the earliest opportunity will reduce the annual fee.

 

You can use the fee calculator on the Commission’s website to work out the reduced annual fee.

 

Operators may also wish to consider applying to make a change to their existing licence for example moving to a remote licence and this can be done here.

 

Given the uncertain nature of the length of this crisis, some operators may feel they have no option but to surrender their licence. If a licence is surrendered the annual fee will no longer be payable. To surrender a licence, email your Account Manager directly or send your email to licensing@gamblingcommission.gov.uk

 

  • Personal Licence holders – maintenance fees

If your maintenance fee is due for payment and you wish to retain your licence, please pay the fee online via the Manage your personal licence page.

 

Regrettably, the Commission know that many people have been temporarily or permanently laid off from their jobs because of this unprecedented situation. Should you choose to do so you can surrender your licence online using the link above and the maintenance fee will no longer be payable.

 

If a business or individual is not able to pay the fee, this will lead to the revocation of the licence.

 

  • Can I vary the terms of my licence?

An application to vary your licence can be made on the make changes to your licence page on the Commission’s website.

 

  • A reminder for online operators

The social distancing measures that are being put in place will mean that more people will be at home and the Commission would like to remind online operators that they must continue to act responsibly, especially in regards to individual customer affordability and increased social responsibility interactions.

 

As a reminder, we expect licensees to:

 

  • Assess individual affordability on an ongoing basis – customers may be experiencing disrupted income. (Social Responsibility code 3.4 refers to guidance –  ‘Customer interaction- formal guidance for remote gambling operators’)
  • Increase social responsibility interactions and intervene where customers are showing signs of gambling-related harm
  • Onboard new customers in a socially responsible way and not exploit the current situation for marketing purposes
  • Refresh the information they have on customers regularly
  • Review the levels which trigger interaction for AML and SR
  • Ensure that your gambling products have been tested by a test house before they are released to the market.

 

  • How is the Commission carrying out its compliance assessments?

 

The Commission are continuing to undertake compliance activity and assessments remotely.

 

  • How do Test Houses continue to meet their audit obligations if locations cannot be visited as normal?

If necessary, audits can be completed in two stages. The first stage can be conducted remotely, with all controls to be assessed. As part of this the auditor should make clear within the audit report the scope of the audit and the methods to be used (such as video conferencing, using tools such as Skype or Zoom) and the measures in place to mitigate any risks.

 

The second stage, and in addition to the first stage process, the auditor must provide assurances that an onsite visit will be conducted once travel restrictions are lifted. The Commission would expect a report in the usual manner for the Commission to review and store on the account. When the next annual audit is due they will then compare both reports and review onsite inspection areas.

 

  • Is it possible to put back the draw dates on lotteries or raffles if sales are being effected due to the current situation?

If a society wishes to change the way they operate the draw from manual to digital, then they must ensure the new method is compliant with Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) and – where applicable – the Remote Technical Standards (RTS). RTS is applicable to all societies who hold a full remote lottery operating licence and have annual remote proceeds (ticket sales) of more than £250,000; or offer online instant win lotteries; or offer high frequency lotteries.

 

  • Also, can a lottery draw be conducted digitally instead if someone isn’t present physically to conduct the draw?

All societies must be able to demonstrate that the drawing of the lottery is conducted fairly and equally, and if requested, are able to demonstrate to the Commission that the draw was completely random. Society lottery operators should ensure they are familiar with the requirements before making any changes.

 

  • If I am running a small local authority-licenced society lottery, am I able to change the draw date due to current restrictions?

For small society lotteries, there is the requirement to have the draw date on the ticket or explanation of how date will be determined. If a small society was to change the draw date, you are only required to ensure players are notified. You could also switch from non-remote to remote ticket sales without needing extra permissions, unlike Gambling Commission-licensed society lotteries where the appropriate licences must be held.  A local authority registration permits both remote and non-remote sales.

 

Source: Gambling Commission