Chair Of UK Trade Group Stepping Down In April 

January 12, 2024
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UK trade group the Betting and Gambling Council is looking for a new chief executive, as it prepares for a leadership reshuffle following the news that chair Brigid Simmonds is stepping down from her role in April.
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UK trade group the Betting and Gambling Council (BGC) is looking for a new chief executive, as it prepares for a leadership reshuffle following the news that chair Brigid Simmonds is stepping down from her role in April.

In an announcement on Thursday (January 11), following a meeting of the BGC’s executive committee, current chief executive Michael Dugher announced he will be taking over as chair from April 21.

Simmonds said: “It has been a privilege to play my part in the development of the BGC since its formation in 2019 and it has been an honour to represent the 110,000 people whose jobs rely on the regulated betting and gaming industry.”

Dugher also paid tribute to Simmonds for “launching the organisation and bringing together the different sectors”, as well as “leading a change programme across the industry that has seen a relentless focus on raising standards on safer gambling”.

In 2020, Simmonds oversaw the BGC's increase in contributions to research, education and treatment services to tackle gambling-related harm and problem gambling, committing more than £100m to charities from its members.

BGC members have also increased the prominence of safer gambling messaging in advertising during her tenure, as well as introducing a code of conduct, the group said.

Simmonds tenure has also included the ongoing Gambling Act reforms in the UK, during which the BGC has acted as a dogged and sometimes controversial advocate for the gambling industry as regulation undergoes its largest transformation in decades.

“Together with a new CEO in the Spring, I look forward as chair to building on that success — continuing and intensifying the work of change on standards, speaking up for the tens of thousands of men and women who work in the industry, and ensuring that the millions of people who enjoy a regular bet can do so enjoyably and safely,” Dugher said.

The search for a new CEO will start immediately and be led by an external recruitment company, according to the BGC.

Dugher’s move to chair will raise questions about a possible change in approach from the BGC.

In the past, head of the pressure group Clean Up Gambling and perennial BGC opponent, Matt Zarb-Cousin, has warned that gambling executives in the UK need to change their lobbying tactics or risk losing the debate on gambling policy.

Zarb-Cousin claimed in October that the success of reform advocates, which he argues is evident in the contents of the Gambling Act white paper, is partly down to an error by pro-industry lobbyists in engaging with a political debate on gambling in the court of public opinion.

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