The chief executive officer of the UK gambling regulatory body has faced some criticism for not visiting any high-street betting shops to personally check on the industry since taking up his current role at the watchdog a year ago.
According to anti-gambling campaigners, Andrew Rhodes has also not visited any online gambling websites since June 2021 when he took over the position of UK Gambling Commission’s (UKGC) boss.
Will Prochaska, one of the members of a local charity organisation that supports families of players who have taken their own lives as a result of gambling addiction – Gambling with Lives – shared an opinion that it was quite concerning that the CEO of the UKGC had held regular meetings with executives of gambling operators and industry lobbyists but had not found the time to actually go to a local betting shop or met with families who have lost a loved one as a result of problem gambling. Representatives of the charity group believe this is the only way he would have been able to witness the real damage that is inflicted by the gambling sector on society.
Prochaska shared that in England alone at least one person commits suicide because of gambling, and this is an extremely worrying trend, especially considering that the highest-level representatives of the gambling regulator preferred to spend more time listening to CEOs of the industry rather than pay attention to what the ones harmed by the sector had to say.
UKGC Should Pay More Attention of Gambling’s Negative Effect on Local Customers, Campaigners Say
Detailed information regarding Mr Rhodes’ visits to gambling locations has been provided by the Government in answer to a parliamentary question placed by Philip Davies, a Conservative Party Member, who reportedly received almost £50,000 as an advisor to a local gambling company in 2019. It was also revealed that Mr Rhodes had held 9 meetings with representatives of online gambling operators, and 13 meetings with representatives of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), the trade body of the local gambling sector.
Currently, the UK Gambling Commission bears the responsibility to regulate the country’s gambling market. The watchdog also has an advisory function on gambling-related matters and is responsible for protecting the most vulnerable society members from the negative consequences associated with gambling-related harm.
Andrew Rhodes was officially announced as the UKGC chief executive officer in May 2022 after serving an interim year in the position. Over the period, he has visited only two adult gaming centres and one bingo hall.
Reportedly, the UKGC, which currently controls and regulates casinos, slot machines, sports betting, bingo, arcades, lotteries and online gambling in the UK, has noted that visits had been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The gambling regulator explained that Mr Rhodes and other Commission executives meet representatives of gambling operators on a regular basis, as well as groups representing local customers and people affected by gambling-related harm. As shared by the Gambling Commission, a programme of engagement for the following 12 months was already under way.
The director of Clean Up Gambling, another anti-gambling campaigner group – Matt Zarb-Cousin – called for Mr Rhodes to visit more locations where Brits gamble. According to him, the UKGC’s boss and other Members of Parliament, who are supportive of the gambling sector, should really go and see the places where local people bet in order to see the actual impact gambling has on British citizens.
Daniel Williams has started his writing career as a freelance author at a local paper media. After working there for a couple of years and writing on various topics, he found his interest for the gambling industry.