A former strategy chief at the accountancy firm Deloitte will be a “more neutral appointment” to lead the UK Gambling Commission as it advises the government on reforming gambling laws.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is understood to have selected Marcus Boyle to replace Bill Moyes, whose term as chairman of the Gambling Commission ends later this year.
The move — which is expected to be confirmed this week — will be viewed as “an appointment which would likely be seen as a positive for the betting industry”, according to the Racing Post.
The Sunday Times, which broke the news, said it was a more neutral appointment.
Boyle, a former board member of Deloitte, is chairman of the British American Drama Academy and a trustee of the Serpentine Gallery. It was claimed that his experience at Deloitte dealing with clients transforming their businesses helped his application for the £55,000-a-year role at the watchdog.
The Racing Post said that “other candidates for his place included some from organisations which highlight potential harms associated with the industry and campaigned against them”.
Boyle is understood to have been selected ahead of Lord Chadlington, who founded the charity Action Against Gambling Harms, and others on the shortlist included Anna van der Gaag, chair of the Advisory Board for Safer Gambling.
The move comes as lawmakers and regulators are under increasing pressure to provide more protection to gamblers, particularly online.
The appointment will occur after a tumultuous few months for the commission. In March, chief executive Neil McArthur quit suddenly as chief executive of the regulator.
The regulator was described as "torpid" and "toothless’ in a June 2020 report by the Public Accounts Committee, following evidence hearings in which McArthur gave testimony.
Earlier in 2020, a similar investigation by the National Audit Office found that the Gambling Commission did not have enough resources to keep up with the industry it oversees.
The Gambling Commission is set to offer critical advice to the government as part of its review into the 2005 Gambling Act. The DCMS has already begun discussions with the commission and is expected to seek its advice throughout the year.
There is also the prospect that the regulator itself could be awarded significant extra powers and responsibilities at the conclusion of the act’s overhaul.
The DCMS declined to comment on reports of the appointment.