Andrew Rhodes encourages collaboration for ‘safer, fairer, and crime-free’ UK gambling

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Chief Executive of the UK Gambling Commission, Andrew Rhodes, explained that the UK’s gambling debate “has not become easier”, suggesting that some insights from the industry may not be “helping anyone”. 

Speaking at the Commission’s largest gathering of industry stakeholders to date, Rhodes detailed the growing number of challenges facing the UK as it continues to tackle the revised Gambling Act. 

Addressing recent conflicts with specific stakeholders, Rhodes stated: “We have challenged people where they have misrepresented statistics and we have sought to bring some balance and evidence to the arguments. 

“Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but some of what has gone on has been an unedifying sight and I am not sure is helping anyone.”

Amidst the uncertainty of the UK’s gambling debate, Rhodes did recognise some progress being made in the last year, such as the reduction of extreme cases of harm attributed to the effectiveness of clear and open communication channels. 

Thanking operators for their cooperation, Rhodes said: “The industry has made progress and I want to thank the many operators in the room today and your trade bodies for having worked with the Commission to achieve this step forward.”

With stakeholders gathered to hear the Chief Exec’s thoughts, Rhodes explained the difficulties the Commission is facing in finding a balance between industry growth that is both sustainable and supports compliance. 

Rhodes commented: “What I am very committed to is we will have the difficult conversations and do the difficult things because that is our job.

“It’s a call to arms for the industry to rally together and navigate the changing legislative landscape with openness and integrity.”

With white paper consultations now well underway, the Gambling Act review will present an abundance of regulatory changes that will impact all corners of the UK’s gambling ecosystem. 

Although UK gambling statistics show that the nation’s market is currently static in participation, the number of active users and customer wagering figures continue to rise. 

As operators are set to benefit from a continued rise in wagering, the Commission has turned its attention to operators in “the second and third tiers, particularly those experiencing rapid growth”. 

Rhodes explained: “This is not because we think growth must be a bad thing, but we have seen examples of operators growing their business faster than the underpinning compliance infrastructure.”

Operators in such categories were encouraged by Rhodes to ensure that their compliance structures are developed in unison with their growth. This falls in line with the Commission’s plans to launch a three-year Corporate Strategy next year, further reinforcing the need for transparency.

To conclude his speech, Rhodes added: “Ultimately if we can all commit to working together, it will lead to better regulation, better outcomes and safer, fairer, and crime-free gambling across Great Britain.”