UK Gambling Commission Issues Industry Warning Notice on the Use of NDAs

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The UK Gambling Commission has had its hands full over the past few months. They have been issuing all kinds of warnings to operators and some operators have even paid penalties for their irresponsible behaviours.

On 31st of January, the last warning was published. The UK Gambling Commission has warned operators that they have become aware that some of their licensees have been including NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) within settlements with customers. Therefore, the UKGC will continue their investigation into this matter because it can be deteriorating for the players.

The UKGC is concerned with the fact that due to these agreements, players will be prevented from contacting the Commission in case they experience problems, and in return, operators will not be properly sanctioned for their behaviours. What may seem to players as a simple NDA that is there for information protection, may turn out to a lot more in the long run.


The Importance of the Appropriate Use of NDAs

The Commission admits that in certain contexts when NDAs are used properly, both parties can benefit from them. The appropriate use is including the resolving intellectual or supplier property disputes.

However, inappropriate use can cause issues and risks. In short, the UK Gambling Commission is up to ensure that the NDAs do not result in players feeling that they are prohibited to notify the UKGC or other law enforcement agencies and regulators of operators' conduct which might otherwise be reported. The players should not be refrained from reporting issues to the Commission just because they anticipate a settlement which says that they cannot complain to the Commission. The UKGC also wants to make sure that those who are suffering from gambling-related problems and gambling history are able to discuss them with their treatment providers.

Moreover, the Commission wants to make sure that licensees will be able to notify the Commission of Gambling Act-stated offences including breaches of social responsibility codes of practice or license conditions.

Additionally, the Commission gives a suggestion to operators what an appropriate NDA should be. It would be appropriate for the NDA itself to be clear about which disclosures are not prohibited with the agreement. The UKGC expects operators to comply with the requirements, expectations and suggestions unless they want to face regulatory actions.


The Requirements Operators Must Stick to

There is a segment in the UKGC’s statement that says they expect operators to comply with both the spirit and the letter of their license and associated regulations and work with the Commission in a cooperative and open way. Also, they expect from them to disclose to the Commission everything it needs to know.

The Commission urges operators to conduct their operations with integrity, diligence, care and skill. Operators need to take care, to control and organise their affairs effectively and responsibly and have adequate controls and systems to minimize the risks to the objectives of the license.

Also, the Commission expects operators to have regard to the players’ interests and treat them fairly, and to have due regard to the needs of info of players and communicate with them clearly and not misleadingly.

The Commission warns operators that any attempts that prevent players from providing info to the regulators or complaining to them about regulatory failings will contravene with the earlier mentioned provisions.


A Reminder of the License Conditions and Codes of Practice

According to the Licence Condition 15, operators are required to inform the Commission about any info or suspicion to an offence under the Act or a breach of licence conditions or codes. They need to notify the Commission of any criminal investigation by a law enforcement agency to which the licensee is involved, including investigations involving gambling facilities under the licenses or investigations on allegedly committed crimes against the licensee.

In addition, operators must notify the commission of investigations to which the circumstances are such that the UKGC might be expected to question whether or not licensee’s effort, measures and actions to keep crime out of gambling had failed.

Finally, the Commission reminds players to report suspicious activity for matters stated in sections 338, 332, 331 and 330 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, sections 21A, 21ZB, 21ZA, 21, 20 and 19 of the Terrorism Act 200, and the Licence Condition 15.2.2.
 

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