The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is looking for a new Chief Executive, as it was announced that Sarah Harrison will leave at the end of February 2018 after two years he world's most recognizable gambling regulatory organisation. Commenting on the surprise announcement, Chairman Bill Moyes stated:
"The Gambling Commission has set an ambitious agenda and clear priorities for treating customers fairly and making play safer and our new three-year strategy embeds this approach for the future. Sarah’s impact has been significant in shaping this direction of travel. I and my Board colleagues wish Sarah every success for the future and look forward to continuing to work with her to deliver this agenda over the next few months."
While waiting for the UKGC to find Harrison’s replacement, her seat will be occupied by Neil McArthur. The UK-based lawyer currently sits as the Commission's Chief Counsel but will take on the new role of Executive Director on February 28 2018, when Harrison officially exits for her new role within the UK government.
Harrison has served at the Commission since October 2015, and was the regulator’s second chief executive, taking over from Jenny Williams who spent ten years at the helm. Prior to her involvement with the UKGC, Harrison was a Senior Partner at Ofgem where she headed up the Sustainable Development division.
She leaves the commission to take up a senior role at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Her impact on the UK gambling industry is vast, focusing on eradicating unfair conditions listed in operator’s promotional offers and developing a hardline reputation for herself and the Commission in the process.
Harrison also set out against bookie ‘clustering’, targeting the fact that betting shops are increasingly dominant in poorer neighbourhoods as well as upmarket high-streets. Upon the announcement of her departure, Harrison stated:
"I am proud of the work that all at the Commission have delivered together. I am very confident that as the Commission delivers its new strategy it will go from strength to strength and will continue to make gambling in Britain fairer and safer.
The role of Chief Executive is defined by the UKGC as 'responsible for the development and effective delivery of the strategy agreed by the Board of Commissioners.' With Harrison on board, the UKGC issued eight fines totalling approximately £16m. And all the regulatory fines fell in line with the Commission’s overriding strategy.
The strategy highlighted the Commission's focus to ‘safeguard consumers and the wider public by ensuring that gambling is fair and safe’. Despite the stiffening of these regulations, the latest statistics released by the UKGC revealed that the gambling sector recorded another excellent year of growth.
Revenue amassed by the market added up to £13.7bn in the period from April 2016 to March 2017, a year-on-year increase of 1.8%. With the market clearly on the rise and headed for even more success, you can bet the amount of attention applied to this particular appointment will far outweigh prior interest for past hires.