UKGC Chief Executive Sarah Harrison Leaves Role

The outgoing boss had been in the role since June 2015 and will step down at the end of February to take a senior position with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

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Sarah Harrison has stepped down as Chief Executive at the UKGC.

The search for her replacement is already underway, with chief counsel Neil McArthur agreeing to take charge on an interim basis once Harrison leaves, until a permanent candidate is found.

Under Harrison’s watch, significant changes in the gambling industry were enforced, including record fines for operators that didn’t comply with tougher regulations to protect vulnerable gamblers from feeding their habit.

She developed a reputation for her hard-line attitude towards perceived inadequacies by a large number of operators, in light of evidence suggesting a growing gambling addiction epidemic in the UK, much of which centred around enduring controversies over television advertising and fixed-odds betting terminals, dubbed the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling.

She upped the ante against betting shop ‘clustering’, highlighting how betting shops are increasingly dominating busy high-street areas and poorer neighbourhoods. She also oversaw a focus on eliminating unfair terms and conditions in operators’ promotional offers, and a clamping down on socially irresponsible and overtly promotional affiliate marketing. It prompted market leaders Ladbrokes and 888 Holdings to announce they would be keeping affiliate partners on a shorter leash, while Sky Betting & Gaming completely got rid of its Affiliate Hub portal.

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. Sarah Harrison, Chief Executive, UK Gambling Commission

UKGC Chairman Bill Moyes said Harrison had a significant impact on the new direction undertaken by the Commission.

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. Bill Moyes, Chairman, UK Gambling Commission

It seems clear then, that Harrison’s successor will be expected to continue implementing the current approach, and operators can expect more of the same.

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