Andrew Rhodes, CEO of UKGC: Industry is “far” from an ideal world


In an ideal world, the UK Gambling Commission would have “little to do” for now, considering compliance across the industry, André Rhodes, CEO at UKGC, stressed that the company is “far from that”.

Discuss the topic during Safer Play WeekRhodes also stressed the need to see “greater compliance” from the industry at all levels, while comparing the role of the UKGC to that of a football referee.

“I am a huge football fan and a long-time supporter of City of Swansea (no need, I’ve heard them all), ”Rhodes joked. “As any football fan will tell you, the best games are the ones where you don’t notice the referee. A clean competition, where no one gets hurt and where everyone comes home after being entertained.

“I sometimes think there are a lot of parallels between working as a football referee and our work at the Gaming Commission.

“In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have much to do. But we are far from that. The last few years have been marked by an escalation in the application of the law by the Commission, no less. Now we want to achieve that ideal, as the level of harm caused by gambling decreases and having a constructive and collaborative relationship with the industry can be part of how we get there.

“From my meetings with the industry, I know the operators want it as well. But if we want a grown-up relationship, we have to start from shared facts. “

Regarding the perception of gambling, Rhodes was firm in stating that “gambling is normal” and that the industry, and people outside, “should not shy away from it”.

“First, the game is normal. Some will attack this statement, but we should not shy away from it, ”commented the CEO. “More than 40% of the population has gambled in the past four weeks and more than half of them have done so online. It’s tens of millions, buying a lottery ticket, betting on sports, playing bingo and the rest.

“But another fact that we shouldn’t shy away from is that gambling exists to make a profit, taking money from its customers. At over £ 14 billion, gambling in Britain is the size of British agriculture. £ 450 per second was lost by players in Britain in 2019/20. For millions of people, this is the price to pay for having a good time.

While stressing that gambling is normal, Rhodes pointed out that for hundreds of thousands of people it is problematic and harmful gambling.

He continued, “These are people who suffer financial, mental and physical damage because of their own gambling or that of their relatives or friends. It’s real, it’s life changing and it can happen to anyone.

“It’s also a group of people who move and change. There is nothing static about it.

“The game is normal, but the harm should not be. We will continue to work to reduce the levels of harm. There are still too many operators who do not respect our rules and this is not acceptable.

“We want a constructive relationship with the industry. But it has to be on the basis of compliance and despite all the good efforts, we still see too many examples of things everyone agrees that we shouldn’t be seeing. These things are not historical – they are happening now.

“And that’s why the Single Customer View project is such a great opportunity for the industry. “

Regarding the project, Rhodes said it was “not a Big Brother” player registry “but a tool to help operators solve their problems.

Making comparisons with the ad industry, Rhodes noted, “Look at the ads. There comes a time when a pub owner will stop serving you, often for your good as well as their business. And other ads won’t serve the same customer either.

“Good operators don’t want to serve a customer who already has enough elsewhere. Single customer view is about preventing this. We know this is technically possible. The ICO has published on how this can be done safely, protecting people’s data. Now it’s up to the industry to test a solution.

Speaking on the future, Rhodes explained that the way forward is clear, as is the commission. He concluded: “We are more than ever focused on our primary goal of making gambling fairer, safer and crime-free. We want to collaborate with the gaming industry in this work. But in order to do that, we must all face the facts.


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