The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC), the gaming regulator of the UK, has appointed Andrew Rhodes as the new interim Chief Executive Officer following the resignation of Neil McArthur back in March. Mr. McArthur had served the UK gaming ombudsman for 15 years (from 2006 to 2021) under different roles. He later rose CEO in February 2018 at an interim capacity after the departure of his predecessor before finally being confirmed for the position in April of the same year.
Andrew Rhodes will now take over from Sarah Gardner, who had been at the Commission’s helm acting CEO after Neil abruptly stepped down from his role amid the £90 million Football Index crash debacle. The Football Index scandal aside, the UKGC has come under fire on several occasions under Neil’s tenure for how it has been handling the gaming industry’s regulation. Andre now faces the challenge of righting his predecessor’s wrongs or improving where he might have fallen short as the regulator continues to face more scrutiny from lawmakers and interest groups.
In a stakeholder update, the UK gaming watchdog disclosed that the new interim Chief Executive has been contracted to serve for 18 months. Upon his appointment, Andrew Rhodes expressed his enthusiasm of steering the Commission onward in a statement saying:
“The Gambling Commission is one of the world’s highest-profile and most respected regulators so I am delighted to join the team at such an important time. Protecting the public and players from gambling harm will continue to be central to our work, and I am looking forward to meeting people from across the industry and those with lived experience to understand the issues and opportunities which lay ahead.”
In his briefing, Mr. Rhodes also pointed out his readiness to take the UK’s gambling industry to the next level as the review of the Gambling Act of 2005 continues. He added:
“This is a great time to have the opportunity to work in gambling regulation. The Government’s Gambling Act Review represents a fantastic opportunity to deliver real and sustained improvements in the way gambling is provided and regulated. As the regulator, we have a unique and important role to play at the forefront of that change.”
An Impressive Track Record to Drive UKGC’s Three-Year Action Plan
In the announcement, the gaming watchdog revealed that it reached the decision to recruit Andrew after “thorough research and a highly competitive process”. Before assuming his new role in the Commission, Mr. Rhodes served as the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer of Swansea University.
Further, prior to venturing into higher education, he has performed well in different high-ranking positions at diverse organizations comprising the Department for Work and Pensions, Food Standards Agency, and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA. Overall, Andrew brings more than two decades of experience in the private and public sector to the UKGC, at a critical time in the unwrapping of the gaming industry’s imminent future.
Bill Moyes, the current UKGC Chairman who is due to retire towards the end of this year, also shared a few words about the new interim CEO, saying:
“Andrew has a first-class track record of delivery, strong leadership, and innovation both in the private sector and in the civil service. I have no doubt he will prove to be an exceptional appointment here at the Commission and it comes at a time when the spotlight is on gambling regulation and operators. I am looking forward to working closely with Andrew as I prepare to hand over to a new chair in September.”
After Neil’s resignation, the regulator’s board decided on finding a new Chief Executive in an interim capacity so that Bill Moyes’ successor can appoint a permanent CEO. The new UKGC Chairperson who will take up the baton from Mr. Moyes is due to be named by the Secretary of State sometime this year.
Speaking of UK’s gaming industry imminent future, the Commission drew a new three-year corporate strategy in April focused on delivering on five key objectives:
- Protection of youngsters and vulnerable individuals from gambling harm
- Boosting fairness in the gaming market and informing consumers a lot more
- Keeping crime out of UK’s gambling industry
- Enhancing National Lottery returns and channeling them to good causes
- Improving regulation in the gambling sector
The new strategy was launched alongside UKGC’s 2021-2022 business plan, which Andrew Rhodes will oversee as part of his duties as the regulator’s new interim CEO.