RGA chief says formal ABB merger ‘unlikely’

2 October 2018

Clive Hawkswood, chief executive of the Remote Gambling Association (RGA), has told iGamingBusiness.com that the organisation could expand its remit to include other forms of gambling, but played down talk of “formal” mergers with other industry bodies.

Various reports have linked the RGA to a merger with the Association of British Bookmaker (ABB), a trade organisation for betting shops operators in the UK, as well as other gambling related bodies.

Although Hawkswood would neither confirm nor deny that talks are ongoing with the ABB and other industry bodies, he did tell iGamingBusiness.com that the RGA could expand its focus to coincide with changes at the UK Gambling Commission.

The Commission has made no secret of its intention to clamp down on a number of key problems in the industry, including protecting children, cutting gambling-related harm and keeping betting fair.

In recent months, the regulator has made a series of announcements in relation to these efforts, with the RGA having stated its support.

Speaking to iGamingBusiness.com about the merger reports, Hawkswood said: “We do undertake periodic reviews and our working relationships with other sectors always form a part of that.

“This is more important than ever in Britain where the Gambling Commission is already moving away from a sector-specific approach to regulation, but it is too early to say what changes might flow from this review.

“However, it is fair to say that we are actively considering whether to expand the RGA’s remit to include other forms of gambling.

“This in part reflects the fact that many of our members are multi-sector operators and we are seeing an increasing number of issues that would be better to address on a cross-sector basis if we can.

“It is probably unlikely that there will be formal mergers with any other trade groups, but at this stage all options are open.”

Hawkswood, who last week confirmed that he is to step down as CEO of the RGA, also said work is ongoing to determine the body’s focus moving forward.

He said: “Issues such as governance, membership structure and branding will all be considered in the coming months, but there is still a long way to go before anything substantive might be finalised.”

Peter Craske, PR manager for the ABB, also spoke to iGamingBusiness.com about the reports, saying that the body is also working on its future strategy but it is currently "too early to speculate".

Craske said: "The ABB, like the RGA, are reviewing our working relationships with other parts of the industry to ensure that we meet the needs of our members in a changing regulatory environment, however it is too early to speculate on what will come from this review."