In the world of online gambling, integrity is paramount. The Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission (“GSC”) has issued a comprehensive Integrity Guidance document to ensure that all holders of an online gambling licence in the Island uphold the highest standards of integrity.
Emma Shilling, Head of Compliance at SolutionsHub, provides expert commentary on the Integrity Guidance document and what it means for operators.
Understanding the Regulatory Legislation
The GSC’s guidance is rooted in the regulatory legislation that mandates certain roles within a licensed entity, which must be of integrity. The GSC has an obligation to ensure this requirement is met in accordance with the Online Gambling Regulation Act 2001 (“OGRA”).
Approved and Non-approved Roles
OGRA defines a number of roles which must be approved by the Commission before they can be appointed (Approved Roles). Such roles include those with ownership, control, influence and/or management of the company/licence holder.
The GSC also requests information regarding roles which have responsibilities for management within the Company but have limited or no influence or control over the Company/licence holder. These roles do not require formal approval by the Commission before they can be appointed (i.e., are Non-Approved Roles).
Implications of Lack of Integrity
The implications of not being a person of integrity are considerable. The GSC is within its rights under OGRA to object to the appointment if it is not satisfied as to the person’s integrity.
Assessing Integrity: A Case-by-case Basis
The GSC will consider all relevant circumstances on a case-by-case basis. The nature of any cause for concern and its relevance to the licence or proposed role of the person, will also be considered by the GSC as part of its integrity investigations.
Role of the GSC’s Inspectorate
The investigations regarding a proposed role-holder’s integrity is performed by the GSC’s Inspectorate. The Inspectorate, who are employees of the GSC, will make a formal recommendation to the Commission as to the person’s approval or disapproval for the role during the Commission’s monthly meetings.
In the event of adverse information being identified within the integrity investigation process, the Inspectorate will provide a case to the Commission stating their rationale for not recommending the approval.
Routine Assessment and Notification
Individuals who have been approved to hold an Approved Role will be subject to routine assessment of this integrity. Where a person no longer holds either an Approved or Non-Approved Role, the person or licence holder should notify the GSC at the earliest opportunity.
Appeals and Complaints
The GSC considers itself fair-minded, therefore in the event that an application for an Approved Role is denied, the case for an appeal may be heard by the Gambling Appeals Tribunal, regarding licensing decisions made by the Commission.
Data Processing and Sharing
In accordance with Article 6 of the General Data (Application of GDPR) Order 2018 (“GDPR”), the GSC is processing personal data on the following basis:
1(c) processing is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation to which the GSC as a controller is subject; and
1(e) processing is necessary for the performance of a public task carried out in the public interest.
Causes for Concern
The GSC’s Integrity Guidance document outlines several causes for concern that could call into question the ownership and control of a proposed applicant or licence holder.
Balanced Approach to Decision Making
The Integrity Guidance provides that the GSC adopts a balanced approach to its decision making, which is based on a number of factors. In order for a person to demonstrate their integrity, the GSC will assess the individual’s personal and professional conduct and will look at any evidence that may be provided to support their character.
Possible Outcomes of Integrity Assessment
The GSC will consider identified causes for concern and make a determination regarding a person’s integrity. Possible outcomes include the GSC:
(a) Remaining satisfied of the person’s integrity and allowing the appointment to take place;
(b) Not being satisfied and determining that the appointment may not take place;
(c) Noting its reservations regarding the person’s integrity and seeking to mitigate any perceived risk by imposing ongoing and enhanced due diligence measures, or by limiting the nature of the appointment.
Open and Honest Relationship with the Gambling Sector
As an outward facing regulator, the GSC promotes an open and honest relationship with the sector and its licence holders. Applicants and holders of Approved Roles are urged to bring any matters that may provide reservations to the GSC to its attention at the earliest opportunity. There is also an expectation that any enquiries are receive full cooperation in a timely and honest manner.
Adverse Media and Disclosure
All applicants or holders of a licence or role are expected to have looked for any adverse media in anticipation of their application. The GSC expects supporting information or an explanation to be provided to any such occurrences, noting any efforts made by the individual or licence/role holder to correct the matter.
Consideration of Past Conduct
Consideration will be given to the length of time that has elapsed since the matter occurred, including, in relation to criminality, whether a conviction is spent or unspent.
Importance of a Culture of Integrity
It is important to remember that integrity is not simply about meeting regulatory requirements, but about fostering a culture of honesty, transparency, and ethical conduct within an organisation.
Integrity is not about just following rules; – it’s about demonstrating ethical conduct in all aspects of business operations. It is also about being honest and transparent with customers, treating them fairly, and delivering on promises.
The GSC’s Integrity Guidance document should be seen a blueprint for conducting online gambling business with integrity.
By following these guidelines, applicants and role holders can build a successful, reputable, and ethical online gambling business in the Isle of Man.
If you are considering applying for an Isle of Man online gambling licence under OGRA, please contact a member of our expert team to ensure that you meet requirements and to help ensure the highest standards of integrity in creating a pragmatic framework for your business.
Read the GSC’s Integrity Guidance here.