Speaking at the 2022 ICE World Regulatory Briefing, Gardner insisted that the watchdog “will not turn a blind eye to bad practice”, referencing how seven operators have paid more than £20m in penalty packages as a result of regulatory failings already this year.
However, she added: “When we look at our licensing, compliance and enforcement work, the difference in the resources necessary to deal with a smaller local operator compared to a multi-national outfit is stark.
“Similarly, I am struck by the very significant increase in the complexity of our most recent change of corporate control cases. This is a job that needs doing and doing well but, as you will all know from your own work in your jurisdictions, doing it well comes with a cost and the resources needed are often different in terms of skills, availability and so on.
“As such, I suspect we are not the only gambling regulator looking at our resources and how those need to adapt with this changing landscape.”
Gardner said that the regulator would later this week publish its consultation response to the UK Government’s Gambling Act Review – the response will consider the watchdog’s resources and powers.
She added: “As detailed in our business plan, we aren’t going to stop making progress while we wait for the review to end. We are going to press on with important work such as the work we have been doing to strengthen our customer interaction requirements.”
Over the coming year, the regulator expects to carry out around 130 regulatory and criminal investigations.
However, Gardner admitted that “enforcement in our own market will not solve all the problems or tackle all the issues”.
She added: “We know that we need to be more agile in how we respond to the challenges we face as this market continues to evolve at pace.”
The complexity of the landscape is illustrated by what Gardner described as a “different category of threat” – namely, “new, novel products… that do not fit wholly or neatly within definitions of gambling products”.
She added: “Our concern is that this all adds up to a risk of harm.”