Entain, Betfred and Flutter join GC Industry Forum led by Nick Rust OBE

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Rust, who previously spent six years as British Horseracing Authority chief executive, was appointed as Industry Forum chair in November 2023.

Over a two-year term, Rust will oversee a forum that includes Ashley Padgett, director of compliance and anti-money laundering at Flutter’s UK and Ireland (UK&I) division, as well as Entain’s customer operations director for UK&I Leo Walker.

As well as Entain and Flutter, other UK gambling industry leaders will be represented. Betfred’s head of media Mark Pearson has been appointed to the forum, as well as David Williams, director of public affairs at Rank Group.

Merkur UK’s director of public and political relations, Tony Boulton, and Betsmart Consulting founder and director, Kirsty Caldwell, will also be joined on the forum by Charles Cohen, founder and chief executive of the UK gambling financial technology company Department of Trust and non-executive director at Games Global.

Also appointed is Nigel Roddis, managing director of Britbet, and g.games founder and chief commercial officer Helen Walton.

Ahead of the first meeting on 21 March, Rust revealed there had been over 40 applicants wanting to join the forum.

“It was difficult to leave quite a few of those people out, but I’m delighted with the quality and experience of the appointees,” Rust stated.

The aims of the GC’s Industry Forum

The Industry Forum was first announced in September 2023. The GC stated the new initiative would aim to give the Commission more insight into operators’ views on various topics.

The three aspects outlined were the operators’ perspectives on the GC’s plans, how the Commission is servicing the industry and consumers and finally providing an insight into how operators go about their business.

The forum will work in partnership with several stakeholder engagement initiatives and advisory groups. These include the Commission’s Lived Experience Advisory Panel and Advisory Board for Safer Gambling.

GC’s evidence-led approach

The Industry Forum is another step the GC has taken towards an evidence-led approach. Rust hopes it will provide insights “which the Commission can draw upon to help evolve and improve its performance as the regulator”.

In late February, the GC released the first wave of data from its Gambling Survey for Great Britain (GSGB). The GSGB will be an annual survey of 20,000 people. This makes it one of the largest gambling data research projects globally, as the GC looks to improve its data processes.

In May 2023, the GC released an evidence gaps and priorities paper for the three years between 2023 and 2026. It outlined the Commission’s intention to undertake evidence-based research on areas like gateway gambling products and the effects of gambling harms.

The key figure from the GSGB’s first wave was that 48% of respondents had gambled in the four weeks prior. However, the prevalence of lottery meant that number dropped to 27% when lottery-only players were excluded. Over a fifth of the approximately 4,800 respondents had only taken part in lottery draws.

The next release of the GSGB data will happen on 27 June 2024, with further investigation into gambling participation and behaviours. The second wave will cover responses from 6 November 2023 to 7 March 2024.

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