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Euro Gambling concerns RGB and ABB set to merge

NEWCO should provide the industry with one powerful voice to combat the equally large voices of the lobbyists who are looking to squelch any further growth.

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Image: Pexels

With growth comes rapid change. Never has that ever been truer than within the gambling industry all over the world. On the heels of what has to be considered a tumultuous year for the UK gambling industry, the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) and the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) have set course for the merger of what is being called a lobbying Supergroup.

News broke in late February that the two groups had begun talks of a merger of the UK gambling industry’s two most influential groups. Based on preliminary indications, the new organization will be called “NEWCO.” A search is currently underway to find a CEO and upper-management staff who will lead this new organization into the future.

The announcement of the merger makes a lot of sense given the state of the gambling industry as a whole. The new group collectively is expected to carry as much if not more influence than the RGA and ABB carried as separate organizations. At the highest level, there will be a unification of causes as opposed to the occasional conflict of interest between the two groups.

With the gambling industry, particularly the online gambling industry, showing double-digit growth over the past few years and likely into the future, growing pains have become very apparent. A quick look at 2018 alone saw a lot of controversial issues come to light.

The biggest issue to hit the industry last year was the government’s decision to cut the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs). While gambling expansion opponents applauded the new legislation, the damage for the gambling industry is expected to be widespread. Most of the nation’s leading bookmaking operations are expected to close as many as one-third of all locations. The impact of the loss of jobs is expected to be material in some communities. That’s not to mention the potential loss of tax and fee revenues going into the government’s coffers.

The year 2018 also saw the UK Gambling Commission hand out a record number of fines to the tune of £28m ($36.6m) for a variety of regulatory breaches. This is a trend that has already continued into the new year, which has seen at least two of the nation’s largest gambling conglomerates receive heavy fines due to violations of self-exclusion policies.

Continuing on, the UK government is currently looking into topics such as banning the use of credit cards to fund online gambling accounts, the continuing ban on all betting advertisements during live sports events, the use of Category B gambling machines and the regulation of smartphones and tablets being used to facilitate online gambling.

Above all, NEWCO is expected to be the voice of a gambling industry that seems to be under siege. While the industry’s explosive growth has created an uneasy feeling among conservative government officials and anti-gambling supporters, there is no indication the growth is going to subside anytime soon. NEWCO should provide the industry with one powerful voice to combat the equally large voices of the lobbyists who are looking to squelch any further growth.

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