Policy Guidance: Licensing and Decision Making

Introduction

This guidance further develops the Policy Statement: Licensing, Compliance and Enforcement. It is intended to guide the development of efficient licensing processes and clarify the levels of decision making. This guidance was approved by Commission Members (Board meeting 21 March 2018) under the heading of Principles. This document is retitled as Guidance, given the development of the Policy statement.


Licence applications and withdrawals

  • The Commission will seek to determine licence applications within a reasonable period and will maintain a register of licensed persons and entities and licence applicants. This will include details of any regulatory sanction applied by the Commission to a licensee.
  • Applicants must satisfy the Commission of a genuine need to hold a licence (e.g. offer of employment by the casino licensee, or a contracted relationship with the licensee for the provision of gambling services/products). The Commission will withdraw licences of people who do not need them (e.g. if contracts of employment, supply, or service agreement are terminated).
  • The Commission requires applicants to provide the Commission with all information it needs to determine their suitability, and this must be complete and accurate when submitted. The Commission will not permit applicants to make material changes to their application during the process and material changes to an application will likely result in an applicant being required to withdraw their application and submit a new application, accompanied by the appropriate fee, or it may result in an application being refused.
  • Whilst the Commission will provide reasonable assistance to licence applicants, the responsibility for providing information rests with applicants. The Commission will consider missing, inaccurate or repeated delays in providing information as a strong contra-indicator of suitability to hold a licence.
  • Decisions to grant licences will be a result of the Commission’s consideration of information relevant (and its reliability) to their overall suitability. The Commission requires applicants to engage with the Commission in an open and cooperative way and disclose matters which the Commission would reasonably expect to know. An applicant’s failure to work in an open and cooperative way will be consider as an adverse factor when considering an application.
  • Licence applicants should provide permissions for the Commission to gain personal data relevant to the application from sources relevant to the determination of an applicant’s ownership, controls and integrity. A failure to gain this permission will likely result in an application failing.
  • Licence applicants should provide the information the Commission needs to exercise its functions. Withholding or providing untrue or misleading information will be considered a strong contra-indicator of an applicant’s suitability, and the Commission will not grant licences if there is doubt about their willingness or ability to provide accurately and timely information.
  • If a licence is issued and it is later suspected or found that false information has been provided or information has been withheld it is presumed that an investigation will be commenced. Where this is the case the Commission would expect the casino licensee to be made aware of the circumstances and arrangements made for the person concerned to be removed from the gaming environment.
  • The Commission expects licence applicants to be able to demonstrate their knowledge of their duties in line with the relevant law and be able to explain how the activities they will carry out will be conducted in a manner which minimises the risks to the licensing objectives.
  • The Commission will hold an operator’s senior operational staff and directors accountable for regulatory compliance and the protection of the licensing objectives. For that reason, the Commission requires operating/business licence applicants to make it clear who will fulfil those roles and have the appropriate licenses.
  • The Commission will monitor the corporate control structures and ownership of the casino and other licensed entities to identify and satisfy itself of the integrity of controllers and others relevant to the operation of gambling.
  • The Commission requires licences for specified management roles. The Commission will not expect that persons with specific responsibility for compliance or security to occupy other management roles that could reasonably be expected to create conflicts of interest.

Investigations and convictions

The Commission requires operators to comply with law, both in Cyprus and in other jurisdictions in which they, or related companies, operate. The licensing process will consider the nature of ongoing investigations or the outcome of completed investigations carried out by other regulators/ government agencies both in Cyprus and in other countries. Failure to disclose such information may raise questions about the suitability of applicants.

The Commission will attach significant weight to failure by a licence applicant to declare a regulatory or criminal conviction for any offence committed by the applicant or a person relevant to the application.

With the exception of felony convictions within the past ten year period, which will result in refusal of the licence, the Commission will determine the weight it will attach to convictions for relevant offences other offences committed by licence applicants or persons relevant to applications having regard to the nature and seriousness of the offence and the time which has elapsed since the offence was committed. Each case will be considered on its merits, but there will be a presumption in favour of refusing an application or investigating licensees in such cases for which a charge will be made.

The Commission will provide applicants and licensees with written notification of licensing refusals and regulatory enforcement decisions, including a clear explanation of the basis for the decision (with detail proportionate to its impact) and details of any appeal mechanism(s).


Information management

The Commission will request only information which it requires to determine an applicant’s initial or continuing suitability and will avoid duplicating requests wherever possible. Information will be securely handled and stored and when no longer required it will cease collection.

The Commission licensing and regulatory process will exploit information technology wherever possible to deliver supports efficient processing, and secure accessibility and storage. It will identify, collect, analyse and report management information to track our performance against our plans.


Decision-making

In deciding what if any action to take, the Commission will have regard to risks to the protection of the licensing objectives and protection of the wider public.

The Commission will adopt a presumption of decisions being made at the lowest competent level and management will have oversight to ensure that licensing decisions are reasoned, proportionate, evidence-based and recorded. Where evidence is inconclusive, or matters are contentious it will adopt a precautionary approach.

The scheme of delegations for licensing decisions will be as shown in Figure 1.


Figure 1
Licensing Activity Initial Decision maker Appeal.
Employee licence approvals/conditions /variations/refusal Head of Licensing Executive Director1
Supplier licence approvals/conditions /variations/refusal Head of Licensing Executive Director
Gaming equipment approval / conditions /variations/refusal Head of Licensing Executive Director
Casino Games approval / conditions/variations/refusal Head of Licensing Executive Director
Junket representative licence approvals/conditions /variations/refusal Head of Licensing Executive Director
Junket operator licence approvals/conditions /variations/refusal Executive Director2 Chair/Commissioners3
Premise’s licences/conditions /variations/refusal Executive Director Chair/ Commissioners

Appeals against Commission decisions

Recognising the provisions of the Principles of Administrative Law (158(1)/1999) persons who consider themselves adversely affected having been notified that it is the intention of the Commission to refuse or apply conditions on the licence, an applicant who objects, will be able to present to the person(s) identified in figure 1 their argument before a final decision is made4. The ability to appeal to the Commission will be time limited.


1 Where the Executive Director has been involved in the initial decision making, any appeal hearing of the decision of the Commission will be conducted by a panel of Commissioners chaired by the Chair or Vice Chair.
2 Having Commissioners making initial decisions will likely reduce the capability of the Board to hear any appeals.
3 Where the Chair or a Commissioner has been consulted on the original decision, (e.g. where the matter is contentious, novel or likely to result in appeal under the provisions of the or Article 146of the constitution of the Republic) different Commissioners will hear the appeal. The hearing will be conducted by a panel of comprising the Chair or Vice Chair and two other Board members.
4 For a person to appeal, it is expected that they also have the ICR’s consent to do so.