A temporary CEO of the UK Gambling Commission has been revealed as the regulator faces a make-or-break year.
Andrew Rhodes has been named as the interim chief executive, and he will oversee a crucial period in the authority’s future as the government completes its investigations into potential industry reform.
Some question whether the Commission is fit for purpose, and in the wake of the Football Index scandal there is a concern that they are unable to regulate effectively with the limitations on their powers – something the firm looked to refute by unleashing a wave of regulatory action in March and April.
They are still being investigated for their part in approving the questionable business model used by the parent company BetIndex, and their consultation into the introduction of affordability checks has been met with outrage by many stakeholders in the sector.
Rhodes will come in as an interim successor for Niall McArthur, the previous chief who helmed the Commission for 15 years before resigning in the wake of the Football Index debacle. Sarah Gardner and Sally Jones had been filling in for McArthur until a successor was found.
Rhodes, who will be employed initially on an 18-month contract, brings with him more than two decades of experience in the education sector.
“The Gambling Commission is one of the world’s highest profile and most respected regulators, so I am delighted to join the team at such an important time,” he said.
“Protecting the public and players from gambling harm will continue to be central to our work, and I am looking forward to meeting people from across the industry and those with lived experience to understand the issues and opportunities which lay ahead.”
Perhaps one of the reasons he has been appointed is that he is proven at handling crisis incidents. Rhodes was a senior figure at the Food Standards Agency at the time of the horse meat scandal in 2013 – where products labelled as beef contained traces of horse and other ‘undeclared’ meats.
Spotlight On at Critical Time
The Commission says that it unleashed a ‘thorough search and high competitive process’ in the hunt for a new head honcho, and it was Rhodes’ spell as the chief operating officer at Swansea University that ultimately sealed the deal.
He has held a raft of senior positions, working with major national operations such as the Department for Work and Pensions, the DVLA and the Food Standards Agency.
The recruitment process was calculated somewhat by the fact that Bill Moyes, the UKGC’s current chairman, will retire later in the year, and the regulator has decided that the new chairman should have the opportunity to appoint their own CEO – hence Rhodes short-term deal.
“Andrew has a first-class track record of delivery, strong leadership and innovation both in the private sector and in the civil service,” Moyes said of his new appointment.
“I have no doubt he will prove to be an exceptional appointment here at the Commission, and it comes at a time when the spotlight is on gambling regulation and operators. I am looking forward to working closely with Andrew as I prepare to hand over to a new chair in September.”