UK’s top gambling regulator has found its new top cop.
On Thursday, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) announced that Neil McArthur has been appointed as its news chief executive, effective immediately. McArthur’s appointment was made after “a thorough search and highly competitive process to recruit the role,” according to UKGC.
McArthur took over the CEO position on an interim basis following the abrupt resignation of Sarah Harrison in February. Harrison, who oversaw UKGC’s new willingness to back up its words with tough enforcement policies, stepped down to take a senior role with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
McArthur is a qualified solicitor who has served as a general counsel for the UK gambling regulator since 2006 before he was promoted to executive director in August 2016. Before his UKGC gig, McArthur served as in-house lawyer for public groups including the Learning and Skills Council and the General Teaching Council for England.
UKGC chair Bill Moyes said in his role as CEO, McArthur brings “a thorough understanding of gambling issues and regulation, along with proven commitment to making gambling fairer and safer.”
The official appointment of McArthur, who said he’s “looking forward” to the challenges “to make gambling fairer and safer,” comes amid the flurry of sweeping changes that the regulator has been making to the UK gambling sector. Several weeks ago, the UKGC recommended scrapping the 72-hour window for age verification (AV), which the UKGC claims operators aren’t using anyway. Online gambling will only be permitted following positive AV, and free-play online casino sites will similarly be off-limits until AV has been completed.
In a statement, McArthur said “there is a lot more to do,” such as “ensuring consumers are empowered to make informed choices about gambling. The UKGC CEO also pointed out the need to reduce “the harms that can come from gambling.”
“[This challenge] requires gambling operators to treat their customers fairly and they can expect us to be tough but fair in making sure they meet their responsibilities,” McArthur said.