The chief executive of Great Britain’s Gambling Commission has resigned during the industry’s biggest regulatory review since 2005.
Neil McArthur’s resignation was unexpected and comes with immediate effect after 15 years of service. It also comes at a turbulent time for the Gambling Commission, following the collapse of a licensed betting site known as Football Index.
McArthur won’t oversee British Gambling Act update
British Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, Oliver Dowden, called for a review of the UK’s 2005 Gambling Act in December.
The 2005 Gambling Act updated existing gambling laws to help address the advent of online betting and gaming. It gave regulatory control of the industry to the Gambling Commission and implemented a new licensing system. The Gambling Act was updated in 2014 but, according to Dowden, is no longer suitable for the modern era. Some laws have already been changed, but more updates are expected once the review concludes on March 31.
Whatever the outcome, McArthur won’t be there to implement the changes. His resignation means the Gambling Commission now needs a new CEO.
Deputy CEO Sarah Gardner and COO Sally Jones have been appointed as joint CEOs on a temporary basis. McArthur’s official replacement won’t be named until the current chairman, Bill Moyes, leaves at the end of 2021.
Tricky time for British Gambling Commission
McArthur’s departure comes at a questionable time that leaves the Gambling Commission in a state of limbo, and may mean the regulatory review’s deadline has to be extended.
There’s also the issue of what will happen when McArthur’s replacement is named. A new CEO may take a much harder line and impose tougher regulations than expected.
Alternatively, the incoming CEO may have a more liberal approach to updating the current regulations.
More issues for British Betting regulator
It’s also poignant that McArthur is leaving while the Gambling Commission is under fire for its handling of the recent Football Index collapse.
The betting site branded itself as a stock market for sports where users could make bets by trading shares in soccer players. Customers raised concerns about Football Index in late 2020 after certain features were removed from the site. It’s since transpired that the company had liquidity issues.
Football Index announced on March 11 that it has entered into administration. Its license was subsequently suspended, and customers are now unsure about the status of their funds. Moreover, there are questions about how the site was able to continue operating unchecked when concerns about its financial status had been raised.
McArthur’s resignation isn’t linked to the Football Index issue, but it does come at a time when the Gambling Commission is fighting fires on multiple fronts.
“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,” McArthur said in a press statement on Tuesday.