The UK Gambling Commission has advised licensees that it is investigating the potential misuse of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) that prevent consumers from contacting the Gambling Commission.
The Commission said Thursday that it has become aware that some licensees have been including NDAs within settlement agreements with consumers, potentially preventing them from contacting the Commission with their concerns, in breach of the statement of principles for licensing and regulation.
This states that licensees are expected to work with the Commission in an open and co-operative way, and to disclose to the Commission anything which it would reasonably expect to know, among other clauses.
“Similar expectations apply to personal licensees and any attempt to prevent a person from complaining or providing information to us about regulatory failings will contravene these provisions,” said the Commission.
It explained that NDAs would be considered improperly used if they serve to prevent consumers from reporting misconduct or a breach of regulatory requirements; reporting an offence to a law enforcement agency; co-operating with a criminal investigation or prosecution; or seeking treatment for problem gambling and discussing their gambling history with treatment providers. This also applies to any other use of NDAs to influence the substance of such a report, disclosure or co-operation.
“Non-disclosure clauses or other settlement terms must not stipulate, and the person expected to agree the settlement agreement must not be given the impression, that reporting or disclosure as set out above is prohibited. It may be appropriate for the settlement agreement itself to be clear about what disclosures are not prohibited by the non-disclosure clause,” the Commission added.
“If a customer in the course of negotiating a settlement agreement states that they intend to report a matter to the Commission, we expect licensees will normally be able to inform the customer that they have already self-reported the incident.
“When there is a failure to self-report to us as required by Licence Condition 15, and there has also been a settlement agreement containing an NDA concluded in relation to the underlying facts, this may be seen as an aggravating factor in any regulatory action the Commission may choose to take.”