In its fortnightly E-bulletin of 25 September 2023, the Gambling Commission included two reminders to operating licence holders (“Licensees”). Firstly, about the requirement that they pay their annual fee before the anniversary date of their operating licence and secondly, that it is a condition of the licence that the gross gambling yield (“GGY”) does not exceed the fee category threshold of that licence.
Payment of annual fees
Following the Gambling Commission’s grant of an operating licence, Licensees must pay their first annual fee within 30 days of the Gambling Commission issuing their licence. Licensees are then required to pay their subsequent annual fees each year before the anniversary date of their operating licence being issued (section 100(1) of the Gambling Act 2005 (“2005 Act”)).
Failure to make payment on time
The Gambling Commission is required by the 2005 Act to revoke an operating licence in the event of a Licensee’s failure to pay its annual fee before the licence anniversary (section 119(3) of the 2005 Act). However, the 2005 Act permits the Gambling Commission to disapply this requirement, if is satisfied that the Licensee’s failure to pay its annual fee is due to an administrative error. It is of note that there is no requirement that the Gambling Commission commence a licence review before revoking an operating licence for non-payment of the annual fee.
How to make payment
The Gambling Commission will issue an invoice to Licensees six weeks before the annual fee is payable. The invoice can also be found on each Licensee’s Gambling Commission eServices account, through which payment of the invoice can be made.
Annual fees are not refundable by the Gambling Commission, unless an overpayment has been made. For example, no refund would be given if a licence is surrendered the day after the licence anniversary date.
We recommend that Licensees diarise their own reminders, well in advance of the licence anniversary, to ensure the timely payment of annual fees.
It is condition of an operating licence that the gross gambling yield (“GGY”) (or annual gross sales for gambling software licences) does not exceed the upper threshold of the fee category for each licensable activity.
Licensees must therefore monitor their projected GGY or annual gross sales in line with their fee categories, which are displayed on their operating licence. It is of note that fee category thresholds follow the licence anniversary year and not the reporting year (which is stipulated by regulatory returns).
Licensees must apply to vary their operating licence to increase the fee category of a licensed activity before exceeding the upper threshold to avoid breaching the licence condition. Failure to do so may lead to regulatory action. The application to vary can be submitted through eServices, carries an application fee of £40, and must be granted by the Gambling Commission before the licence anniversary date. Licensees who have already exceeded the GGY threshold must regularise the position by submitting an application to vary immediately.
We encourage Licensees to set reminders to pay annual fees, and to ensure the accuracy of their licence fee categories. Further information can be found in the Gambling Commission’s annual fees guidance.
Please get in contact with us if you have any questions about your annual fees and/or fee categories.