The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has this afternoon sent a communication to stakeholders announcing that Neil McArthur has resigned from duties as Chief Executive of the regulator.
McArthur has chosen to end his 15-year tenure with the Commission, having joined in 2006 as a legal advisor, raising up the ranks to become Chief Executive in 2018 replacing Sarah Harrison (MBE).
Throughout his tenure as Chief Executive, McArthur oversaw the implementation of numerous initiatives, many of which related to clamping down on gambling-related harms.
Notable policies introduced under his leadership 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.
“I am proud of everything the Gambling Commission has achieved during my 15 years with the organisation,” McArthur stated, commenting on his departure.
“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.”
Additionally, McArthur played a role in launching the UKGC’s Lived Experience Advisory Panel, giving a greater voice to those whose lives had been impacted by problem gambling in how UK gambling policies are shaped.
Finally, the outgoing executive organised the UKGC’s operations through two major periods of change, as the betting industry first began to evolve to deal with an increasingly digitised market, and secondly as it coped with the financial and organisational challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
“On behalf of the Board I would like to thank Neil for his many years of commitment and service to the Gambling Commission,” added Bill Moyes, Chairman of the UKGC, who will also be vacating his position later this year.
Moyes continued “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 tenure divided political opinion as the Commission came under fire from high profile MPs for its close relationship with licensed operators.
McArthur would defend 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 2005 Gambling Act, which will now be led by new DCMS undersecretary John Whittingdale who is yet to make a statement on McArthur’s resignation.
Now that he is vacating his position, the UKGC will begin the recruitment process to find a replacement 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 activities get underway.