CEO Sarah Harrison, who gave Gambling Commission teeth, set to leave
Sarah Harrison, credited with giving the Gambling Commission far more teeth in her time as chief executive, is to leave the industry regulator at the end of February to take up a senior role with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Harrison took over at the commission in October 2015 having joined from energy regulator Ofgem, where she had shown a willingness to impose stringent penalties.
She continued down that path at the Gambling Commission, with recent examples including the record £7.8 million penalty online firm 888 suffered due to serious flaws in their social responsibility measures and the £2.3m penalty Ladbrokes Coral received last month for breaching regulations.
The commission has also teamed up with the Competition and Markets Authority to take action over gambling industry terms and conditions.
Harrison said: “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 commission said the search for Harrison's successor was already under way. Neil McArthur, the commission’s chief counsel and executive director, will be appointed as acting CEO from February 28 until the permanent replacement can take up the post.
Gambling Commission chairman Bill Moyes said: "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."
Harrison has warned the gambling industry that the commission would back a statutory levy on operators if they fail to increase their financial contribution to fighting problem gambling and on Thursday Rosena Allin-Khan, the shadow sports minister, pledged that a Labour government will introduce a compulsory system.
Speaking to delegates on the second and final day of the GambleAware Harm Minimisation conference, she described as “unacceptable” that operators took "a record £13.8 billion" but only contributed £8 million to problem gambling charities instead of an expected £10m.
She added that Labour would also seek to ban football shirt advertising, citing the long-term impact on young people in terms of "normalising" gambling.
Labour is also seeking a £2 limit per spin on betting shop FOBTs and Allin-Khan later added there was also great concern about the growing impact of online and mobile gambling.
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