The UK cross-sector organisation Gambling Business Group (GBG) has appointed Steve Sharp, who previously served as an executive with Gauselmann Group’s UK arm, as its new chairman.
In his new position, Sharp will have the task of helping and advising the GBG on key industry matters, including the ongoing, government-led Gambling Act Review that had been promised in the Conservative Party manifesto back in 2019 and that began last month.
Sharp has worked in the UK gambling industry for over 40 years, including spells with companies including SG Gaming, Inspired Gaming Group, Stanleybet and Leisure Link. In his comments on taking over at GBG, Sharp praised the Group for their notable achievements since they were set up in 2014, which he said was achieved through taking a strategic approach to the way that the gambling industry developed and to the way that it worked with government.
Sharp also emphasised the opportunity that came with the review of the Gambling Act, despite concerns in some quarters about the implications for the UK sector:
“The Review is a seminal opportunity that we cannot waste. It provides a chance to re-set the gambling entertainment proposition that we are able to provide consumers set against a robust commitment to safe gambling which is at the heart of everything GBG members do.”
In announcing the appointment, the GBG chief executive Peter Hannibal said that it was a crucial time for the GBG to ensure that members’ interests are fully represented through evidence-based arguments alongside a compelling vision for the future. He welcomed Sharp to role of GBG chair and said that he welcomed the opportunity to draw on the new chairman’s cross-sector experience as the UK gambling sector approached the ongoing unprecedented challenges.
The appointment follows criticism from the GBG of proposals from the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) that would introduce affordability checks to the UK industry, arguing that this could lead to an increase in gamblers accessing unlicensed operators, as well as a rise in problem gambling.
Back in November, the UKGC launched a consultation that sought feedback on plans to introduce requirements for UK operators to act on information they have about a consumer’s potential vulnerability. But the GBG has instead said that such proposals should be included as part of the Gambling Act Review and studied by ministers before being implemented.