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Betting and Gaming Council formed as voice of UK industry
The Remote Gambling Association (RGA) and Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) are to be wound up and replaced by the Betting and Gaming Council, a new UK-facing operator body that aims to act as the industry’s mouthpiece.
The Betting and Gaming Council aims to be fully operational by the Autumn, and will be dedicated to ensuring operators offer a safe and entertaining gambling experience for customers. It aims to set high standards for tackling gambling related harm, and build consumer and public trust in the sector.
It will replace the RGA, the body formed in 2005 through the merger of Association of Remote Gambling Operators (ARGO) with the Interactive Gaming, Gambling and Betting Association (IGGBA), and the ABB. Together the two bodies count over 100 operators, ranging from independent bookmakers to listed corporations, among their members.
“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,” ABB chair Paul Darling QC said.
Membership of the new body will be open to all gambling operators with a UK licence. The Betting and Gaming Council claims it will represent over 90% of the gambling sector, excluding lotteries. These members will be required to adhere to a new code of conduct to ensure they uphold the highest possible operational standards.
The Betting and Gaming Council is to be led by Brigid Simmonds OBE (pictured), who will serve as its chair. Simmonds currently serves as chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, having held the position since 2009.
She previously served on the Sport England Lottery Panel, and the main board of Sport England, a government body that encourages people to participate in sports. She has also chaired the British tourism industry association Tourism Alliance and is a former trustee of gambling charity GambleAware. Simmonds was named an Officer of the British Empire for her services to sport in 2006.
“I am excited to be joining the Betting and Gaming Council as its first chair,” Simmonds said. “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,” she continued. “I firmly believe the UK regulated gambling industry should be recognised as the world-leading industry in terms of safer gambling.”
RGA chair and bet365 co-CEO John Coates hailed Simmonds’ “outstanding track record” in her career to date.
“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,” Coates said.
Darling added that her credentials with the Beer & Pub Association “speak for themselves”.
“She will bring great insight to the new association as it focuses on building public trust in gambling.”