Neil McArthur, CEO at UKGC: “Make Britain world leader for safer gambling”

Neil McArthur spoke to industry leaders at the Raising Standards event.
Neil McArthur spoke to industry leaders at the Raising Standards event.

The British regulator’s chief executive has told the industry the Commission will “drive out” operators unwilling to comply.

UK.- The British Gambling Commission’s chief executive Neil McArthur has called on the government to “make Great Britain the world leader for safer gambling” in a speech to the Raising Standards conference in London.

Addressing the upcoming review of Britain’s 2005 Gambling Act, McArthur said the regulator would use all its powers to ensure operators comply with whatever legislative changes are made, and warned that there will be no grace period.

He said: “Firstly, any operator that tries to bend the rules or is unwilling to comply with the high standards we set will find the Commission is willing and able to drive them out of the British market.”

He said the review of gambling regulation in the UK could not be used as an excuse to slow down on safer gambling improvements.

He said: “I want to make it crystal clear that we will not be taking our foot off the accelerator whilst the review takes place. We are making progress in lots of areas and we must continue to work together to make gambling safer.

“Where we see an opportunity to raise standards for customers, we intend to take it, adopting – as we always have – a precautionary approach where appropriate.

“And we will not accept the Review of the Act as a reason for any operators to slow down either. None of you should get distracted from the task in hand.”

He also claimed that statistically all operators would have problem gamblers among their customers.

“How likely is it that people experiencing or at risk of gambling related harm are only playing with your competitors?” he asked. 

“You might say ‘We have a risk committee that takes this really seriously’. And I know that’s the case and tone from the top is important. But how confident are you really that your company is doing everything it possibly can to drive down the number of customers you have who are experiencing or at risk of gambling related harm?”

However, despite the hardline, he said he was in favour of collaboration with the industry. 

He said: “I think that the ‘experiment’ of working collaboratively to accelerate progress that results in tangible improvements for customers has been shown to work and we want to build on that approach.

“As I have said before, it is not my job to promote the gambling industry; I work in the best interests of customers, but that doesn’t mean that the relationship between the regulator and its licensees has to be adversarial.

“We want to support the industry in raising standards, not just intervene when things go wrong and, in practice, this means engaging more directly with operators and groups of operators and it’s something that we are keen to do more of in the future.

“We are working hard to make Great Britain the safest place to gamble in the world and we need you to work with us to achieve that outcome.”

He praised operators for keeping player protection on the agenda during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

He said: “Whilst I know that many of your businesses have faced enormous struggles. And I know that some of you will have been forced to make tough decisions to keep your businesses viable in recent months, the fact that everyone has kept customer protection at the top of their agendas – despite all the challenges – tells me that we are on the right track.”

The speech came ahead of the UK’s Safer Gambling Week, which begins today (November 19).

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