After recently introducing changes to its licensing conditions and codes of practice, the Gambling Commission regulator in the United Kingdom has now unveiled a revised enforcement strategy that will see online gambling operators face higher penalties if they are found to have broken the rules.

The new approach went into effect yesterday following a four-month consultation on ways to build on the legal and procedural safeguards offered under the Gambling Act of 2005 and involves increased financial penalties for regulatory breaches, especially if these are found to have been systemic or repeated.

The Gambling Commission stated that the changes have also seen all regulatory tools placed on an equal footing with the removal of a bias towards settlement while it intends to utilize time-limited discounts in order to create better incentives for early settlement.

“We will use the full range of enforcement powers to ensure operators put customers first and raise standards,” read a statement from Sarah Harrison, Chief Executive for the Gambling Commission. “The industry can be assured that we will use our powers in a targeted way and consumers and the public can be assured we will take robust and effective action when gambling companies don’t meet their obligations.”

The revised strategy came a little over a week after the nation’s Competition and Markets Authority regulator announced that it was set to initiate enforcement actions against a number of online gambling operators that were suspected of breaking consumer laws by offering sign-up promotions that involved erroneous promises of bonus cash or free wagers. These offers are often designed to attract new players but the agency declared that it had become concerned that some punters were not getting the deal they had expected as some sites were “unfairly holding on to people’s money”.

“We are delighted by this announcement,” read a statement from Brian Chappell from the Justice for Punters advocacy group concerning the revised Gambling Commission rules. “It confirms the discussions in our meetings with the Gambling Commission that it is committed to improving customer service for gamblers. Gamblers really struggle to get any justice at all from companies and any regulatory changes that help with this situation are very welcome.”

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