The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is on the lookout for a new CEO this week following the announcement that current incumbent Neil McArthur is to exit the regulator after nearly 15 years.
McArthur joined the UKGC in 2006 and was General Counsel before rising to the role of Chief Executive in 2018, replacing Sarah Harrison (MBE).
He said on his departure: “I am proud of everything the Gambling Commission has achieved during my 15 years with the organisation. 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 underway 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.”
During his time as CEO, McArthur oversaw the implementation of numerous initiatives, many of which related to clamping down on gambling-related harms.
Notable policies introduced during his tenure include the prohibition of credit cards as a payment method on betting websites, enhanced age verification checks and most recently, new requirements to establish protections in the design of online products.
McArthur also played a role in launching the UKGC’s Lived Experience Advisory Panel, giving a more prominent voice to those whose lives had been impacted by problem gambling in how UK gambling policies are shaped.
The outgoing CEO organised the UKGC’s operations through two major periods of change when the betting industry first began to evolve to deal with an increasingly digitised market, and as it coped with the financial and organisational hurdles of the coronavirus pandemic.
Chairman Bill Moyes commented: “On behalf of the Board I would like to thank Neil for his many years of commitment and service to the Gambling Commission. A lot has been achieved during his time here and Neil can rightly feel proud of the organisation’s progress during his tenure as Chief Executive.”
Despite numerous policy successes, McArthur’s leadership divided political opinion as the regulator came under fire from high profile MPs for its close relationship with licensed operators.
McArthur defended the ‘collaborative frameworks’ of the UKGC’s ‘National Strategy’ in regulating UK gambling, balancing the industry’s commercial interests and social responsibilities.
The Commission’s operations and structure have been placed under the spotlight as part of the government’s generational review of the 2005 Gambling Act, which will now be led by new DCMS undersecretary John Whittingdale.
The UKGC will now begin the recruitment process to find a replacement CEO for an interim period, allowing Moyes’ successor to appoint a permanent Chief Executive. Deputy Chief Executive Sarah Gardner and Chief Operating Officer Sally Jones will jointly serve as Acting Chief Executive as recruitment gets underway.