Maintaining standards while embracing change in regulation

Insights from Leanne Oxley, Director of Enforcement and Intelligence – Gambling Commission

In our recent webinar reviewing the findings of the inaugural UK Government Regulatory Technology Report, panellist Leanne Oxley answers questions from panel facilitator Dr Russell Richardson (North Sea Transition Authority) on the key reasons why the UK's regulators are adopting digital technologies, and the Gambling Commission’s take on risk-based regulation becoming an increasing priority.

Dr Russell Richardson: The research and the report show the key reasons why UK regulators are adopting digital strategies and technologies is to improve the quality of services to the public and minimise the burden on regulated entities. Why do you think that these were seen as paramount?

Leanne Oxley: As the report outlines, the UK Government's ambition is to deliver world-class digital technology and systems, and every regulator will be mindful of the age-old tension between innovation and ensuring value for money.

Most of us will have an eye on future-proofing when making a significant investment in the tech space, which should be informed by learning lessons that have gone before. This is why I believe regulators have set the parameters they have as an effective measure to drive an outcome-focused approach, which I both understand and support. Most of us will have seen a digital shift post-Covid that will either continue or might not ever fully revert back to how things were before the pandemic, and that can apply to either, or both, the regulator themselves and the sector they're regulating.

The pace of digital innovation is perpetually expanding with greater interconnectedness and opportunities, but also sometimes with higher risks. Minimising regulatory burdens is more than just reducing red tape. It's about not inhibiting innovation, while ensuring robust standards can be maintained. If I use an analogue example, you can have the best policies and procedures on paper, but if it isn't implemented effectively, it will not demonstrate compliance. The same is true for regulators’ digital appetite – you can buy the best tech that your budget permits, but if it doesn't align to your core activities, address your friction points, have the right service-level support infrastructure and enhance your system processes, you'll see low adoption levels or limited success rates in supporting and furthering your regulatory agenda.

The UK has an internationally respected standing in the world which every regulator will want to protect and maintain.

By anchoring any change investment or adoption of tech to service standards and regulatory burden, you can more effectively measure what you're trying to achieve and whether you've done it. The UK has an internationally respected standing in the world, which every regulator will want to protect and maintain. Our techniques to process and harness the information that we collect and acquire, must enable us to make timely, consistent interventions and take actions that drive better decision making. This leads to better protections for the public. That's why if we approach it in this way, we're more likely to ensure our sectors and the public have confidence in us.

Dr Russell Richardson: Data integrity for me, and insights are really important as part of RegTech – and that leads on to risk-based regulation. The research highlights that risk-based regulation is an increasing priority. What has been your experience at the Gambling Commission?

Leanne Oxley: The Commission is a risk-based regulator who seeks to respond dynamically to emerging risks and issues and we plan our engagements on a proactive basis, as well as reserving resources to act reactively if the situation requires. We receive incoming reports and intelligence in numerous ways, including from members of the public directly, so our systems have to support that.

I would describe us currently as ‘intelligence capable’ – we are aware and informed, but my aspiration would be to optimise our data and digital capabilities to make us truly intelligence led. To me, that's the space we need to be in when I look at the challenges our increasingly complex internationalised sector presents, and which our case study in the report links to. We are a regulator, prosecutor and AML supervisor, so for us, it's vital that our respective teams and functions can share the right amount of information at the right time, in the appropriate way internally, but also externally to law enforcement, regulatory government colleagues, etc.

When I look at what opportunities there are available to us if we can get our systems and processes where they need to be, it's a very exciting landscape. But I don't underestimate the challenges in getting there.

When I look at what opportunities there are available to us if we can get our systems and processes where they need to be, it's a very exciting landscape. But I don't underestimate the challenges in getting there. As a regulator, it can be tempting to always look outside and I think for me, a big focus needs to be on taking a risk-based approach internally as well so that we don't lose any service standards whilst we're making any changes because our regulated entities deserve that. And particular to my sector, I think there is much that we can learn from them. We see constant innovation and capability and part of our regulatory role has to be to foster that and share learning, particularly where smaller entities can learn from the bigger ones who’ve been able to invest more time and resources so that neither they, or indeed us as the regulator, are left behind.

  • To watch the panel discussion live, view the Government Regulatory Technology webinar on demand here
  • To download the UK Government Regulatory Technology Report 2023, click here

Panellist information

Leanne Oxley

Leanne Oxley is the Director of Enforcement & Intelligence at the Gambling Commission and is responsible for the intelligence, sports betting integrity, anti-money laundering and enforcement functions.

Leanne’s career has spanned civil and criminal investigations and prosecutions, Ombudsman investigations, AML supervisory duties and regulatory oversight.

Dr Russell Richardson

Dr Richardson is an experienced competition and regulatory lawyer who has managed various dispute resolutions and multi-discipline litigation before the UK, EU and Grand Cayman courts.

He currently works for the North Sea Transition Authority as its General Counsel and Company Secretary, supporting the Authority on its mission to help drive forward North Sea energy transition.