UK Gambling Commission Chief Stands Down

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The stakes could not be higher for the UK gambling industry in 2021 and 2022. And with a government review on gambling laws due to report later this year, the Chief Executive of the gambling regulator, the UK Gambling Commission has resigned. 

Neil McArthur made the announcement on 15th March, just days after Football Index, a company regulated by the UK GC collapsed into administration. 

The UK GC is itself consulting on the reform of UK gambling laws, and has recently announced a clampdown on some technical features on slot games, the UK’s favourite online flutter. 

McArthur joined the UK GC in 2006, becoming CEO just two years ago. 

Today he said: “We have taken significant steps forward to make gambling fairer and safer and I know that I leave the organisation in a strong position to meet its future challenges.

“With a review of the Gambling Act under way, now feels the right time to step away and allow a new chief executive to lead the commission on the next stage in its journey.”

The organisation’s chairman, Bill Moyes, is due to also stand down later this year. The new chairman will appoint a permanent chief executive once a chair has been chosen. 

For now deputy chief executive Sarah Gardner and chief operating officer Sally Jones will work as acting chief executive. 

The UK gambling industry is booming. The UK GC says that the sector grows at around £100 million a year. Slots in the UK bring in £2.2 billion. 

But the industry is under pressure like never before. A slew of high profile stories – many of them extremely tragic – have been linked to problem gambling and gambling addiction. The industry, as one of the parts of the UK economy performing most strongly, has become incredibly visible. Almost every football team is sponsored by an online gambling company – at least two clubs had to remove Football Index from their shirts last week. 

New rules announced earlier this year will come into play in October. They will slow down slots play by banning auto play systems and they will also make some signalling within games clearer. 

The UK Gambling Commission’s review focuses on affordability. This might demand that players prove they have the funds to gamble if they spend as little as £100 a month on gambling. The industry has lobbied heavily against such changes, which they say are too restrictive and will drive legitimate gamblers into the black market. 

The UK’s main industry body, the Betting and Gaming Council has been lobbying hard against changes it says would be disproportionate, last week releasing its own public opinion survey that said most UK adults didn’t think spending limits should be set by law. 

The horse racing industry, which is known to have strong links to the governing Conservative Party, is largely supported with gambling money, and fears that it will lose a huge slice of its income if spending limits are set. 

The government’s review will report later this year with its recommendations to be enforced in 2022. You can still submit your own views to the consultation before the end of March. 


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