Game, set and match to NAO

8 Jun 00
The Gaming Board, the regulatory body for casinos, bingo clubs, gaming machine suppliers and local lotteries, needs to raise its game and show results, according to the National Audit Office.

09 June 2000

The picture drawn by the NAO of the board's activities is of former police officers plodding a regular round of casinos and bingo halls with little clear idea of what they are expected to achieve.

In 1998/99 the Gaming Board spent around £1m – a third of its budget – on carrying out nearly 4,800 inspections of an industry involving stake money of more than £11bn a year. But, says the NAO, it 'has not been able to produce measures to determine the efficiency and effectiveness with which this work is carried out'.

It adds: 'The frequency of visits is not determined by any formal, systematic assessment of risk which takes into account, for example, the results of the operator's own compliance activities and the outcome of previous inspections.'

Between 1994 and 1999, the board revoked just 361 certificates of approval – its sole sanction – out of an estimated 7,000 in active use, around 5%. Most infractions only resulted in warning letters.

The NAO recommends that the board should focus its inspections more clearly, improve its records, co-operate more with Customs and Excise and recruit people with a wider range of skills and experience – in particular people with IT and accounting skills.

The office also criticises the board for failing to recover its costs, as it is required to do, from the fees it levies. There has been an under-recovery of around £1.3m over the five years from 1994/95 to 1998/99, it says.


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