Gambling associations in the UK are combining forces to gang up on lawmakers. They are creating a new trade group that would lobby politicians in an effort to have a greater voice in the growing anti-gambling roar that’s enveloping the industry.
The Remote Gambling Association (RGA), a group that represents online betting operators, and the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) have reportedly set out to merge. This appears to be confirmed by a job posting on the Ellwood Atfield recruitment website, which states that the two organizations have formed “NEWCO.” NEWCO is described as “the working title for a new industry body representing the gambling sector, replacing the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) and the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB).”
The Guardian reports that a senior industry source acknowledged the merger and stated, “All of the issues on responsible gambling and tax cut across the industry, so it’s time to get lined up a bit better.”
There has been a constant assault against the gambling industry in the UK, with a barrage of new regulations and restrictions making it increasingly difficult for operators to conduct their businesses in anything but a chaotic fashion. The new lobby group is looking for a chairman and a CEO to help lead the organization, which will be “the largest and most prominent organisation representing the gambling industry.”
Candidates need to prove that they have a “track record of successfully influencing the political and lobbying process within Westminster, Whitehall and ideally Brussels.” They also need to show that they have “an established network within the national and international political and media arena, with experience of dealing with the media on politically sensitive topics.”
The ABB has been on the front lines of the fight that sought to restrict fixed odds betting terminals (FOBT) in the UK. However, it lost the skirmish after government officials called the machines a “social blight” and ordered that the maximum bet be reduced from £100 ($130) every 20 seconds to £2 (about $2.60).
According to Matt Zarb-Cousin, spokesperson for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling and a FOBT opponent, NEWCO was born because the organizations realized that mistakes had been made. He explained, “This illustrates how discredited the ABB in particular are with policymakers and with government, given the way they handled the issue of FOBTs and their failure to acknowledge any kind of problem, which has led to resistance to any meaningful compromise. Ultimately, the £2 stake was enacted, their worst-case scenario, so it’s no surprise they’re looking for a new body to lead on this.”