After months of conjecture, it has been formally announced today that the Remote Gambling Association (“RGA”) and the Association of British Bookmakers (“ABB”) are to be replaced by the newly formed Betting and Gaming Council, that is aiming to become operational in the autumn, with the aim of representing 90% of the gambling sector (excluding lotteries).
It is intended that membership of the Betting and Gaming Council will be open to all UK licensed gambling operators and that all members will be required to abide by a new code of conduct to ensure that they uphold the highest operational standards.
The ABB chair Paul Darling QC is quoted as saying:
I welcome the creation of the Betting and Gaming Council which will enable the sharing of best practice across the industry and significantly increase the capability for innovation on new safer gambling measures.
It has also been announced that the chair of the Betting and Gaming Council will be Brigid Simmonds OBE, who is very well known to us by reason of her ten-year role as chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association (“BBPA”). She is quoted as saying:
The gambling industry is a hugely significant contributor to the leisure industry and to the economy. There are, however, critical issues facing the sector and that is why I will ensure that creating a safe gambling environment is the top priority.
I will be listening to all stakeholders to ensure that the Betting and Gaming Council is leading the industry in identifying effective measures to protect customers. I firmly believe the UK regulated gambling industry should be recognised as the world-leading industry in terms of safer gambling
RGA chairman John Coates, who is also the co-chief executive of bet365, has welcomed her appointment, saying:
I know she will drive co-operation across the industry on all safer gambling initiatives as it continues to come together to collectively address the challenges it faces.
Announcing that Brigid will depart from the BBPA on Friday 11 October, the Chairman of the BBPA (also Fuller’s Chief Executive) Simon Emeny has said:
Brigid has led the organisation with confidence, sharp intellect and humour when needed and has successfully raised the profile of the BBPA and its members with Government, media and other legislative organisations.
During her tenure, Brigid has led numerous successful campaigns to reduce beer duty and improve access for pubs to business rates relief. She has promoted the industry at Westminster and ensured the voice of brewers and licensed retailers has been heard loud and clear. Brigid admirably represented the industry during the Pub Code Inquiry and played a key role in the recently announced Sector Deal for Tourism.
Brigid is a true force of nature and I feel privileged to have served alongside her. She is powerful in her arguments, passionate in her defence of great British beer and the great British pub, and rapier-sharp in negotiating with politicians. She has been an incredible representative of our sector and I know I speak on behalf of all the BBPA members when I say that the BBPA’s loss is most definitely the gambling industry’s gain. We wish her every success in the future.
We also wish Brigid every success in her new position.