The chief executive of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has announced yesterday Monday, 15 March 2021, that he will be stepping down from his post. His resignation comes amidst allegations that the commission has refused to act adequately in the case of one of its licensees, as well as an ongoing government review of the country’s gambling laws.
In 2018, Neil McArthur took up the role. During his term, the UK regulator imposed a ban on gambling with credit cards but has also experienced a decline in confidence in its capacity to govern the sector.
McArthur’s resignation is effective immediately. Sarah Gardner, the UKGC’s deputy chief executive, and Sally Jones, the UKGC’s chief operating officer, have been appointed as acting co-chief executives. A permanent CEO will not be named until the regulator appoints a new chairman. Bill Moyes, the agency’s current chairman, is expected to remain on until the end of the year.
Talking about his performance prior to his resignation, McArthur said that when he was in charge, the UKGC was able to take significant strides forward to make gambling fairer and safer. McArthur also expressed that he is confident that the commission is in a strong position for future challenges despite his departure.
Furthermore, McArthur is resigning in the midst of a government review of the United Kingdom’s Gambling Act of 2005. Anti-gambling activists have long advocated for restrictions on online slots, gambling ads, and so-called VIP programs used by locally licensed operators to entice high-rollers to play even more.
These lobbyists’ years of work will now eventually bear fruit, as stricter restrictions are likely to be enforced after the review’s findings are made public.
As the prevalence of online and mobile casino-style gaming and sports betting increases, businesses that offer these services in the UK are required to be more tightly regulated to ensure that the most vulnerable members of society are protected from gambling-related hard.
It is also worth noting that McArthur announced his resignation after the UKGC was strongly chastised last week for its handling of the Football Index fiasco.
Football Index is a UK-licensed betting site that gives punters the ability to purchase stakes of football clubs, equivalent to a stock exchange. It then pays out dividends depending on how well these players do.
The site unveiled an updated payout structure in early March, reducing most dividends from up to 14p to either 1p or 2p. Customers expressed backlash over the updates, resulting in a dramatic drop in stock prices overnight.
Users urged the Gaming Commission to launch an investigation of the matter, and the regulator reacted late last week by announcing that an investigation had been initiated and the owner of Football Index’s license had been revoked. Despite this move, the regulator has been chastised for failing to intervene sooner.
The Gambling Commission claimed that McArthur’s resignation had nothing to do with the matter, but many believe this is not the case.