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Neil McArthur's speech at Media & Telecoms 2019 & Beyond event

07 March 2019

Hello. My name is Neil McArthur. I’m the Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission – so, looking at the attendees list, I can see that I am bit of a ‘wild card’.

I’m really pleased to be here today, because I need your help. I am a regulator: my job is to keep consumers safe. That means I spend a lot of my time responding to emerging issues that present new and existing risks to consumers and the public in Britain.

But I don’t claim to be a market pioneer or innovator - and seeing into the distant future remains in the ‘things to keep working on’ column of my personal development plan.

In contrast, when I look around this room, I see lots of pioneers and innovators. I see a room full of people who will have a vision of what the future may look like in their field of expertise. And I’d like you to share your thoughts with me and my colleagues, so we can get a clearer view of what the world might look like in 2023 and beyond; in particular:

  • how do you think technology will have changed by 2023 and what will be around the corner then?
  • what do you think people will be doing in their leisure time in 2023 and beyond?
  • how do you think people will be spending their leisure pound in 2023?

Why do I need to predict the future and why should you care?

The Gambling Commission regulates the gambling industry, including the National Lottery. It is our responsibility to run the competition to find the National Lottery operator(s) to run the National Lottery from 2023 and beyond. That is why the answers to the questions I have just posed are vitally important to the future of the UK National Lottery.

And you should care because the National Lottery is vitally important to the UK. The National Lottery is one of the UK’s most recognised brands and it makes a massive contribution to our society. It transforms lives and contributes to the arts, sports, heritage and communities across the UK – for example, so far, the National Lottery has raised a staggering £39 billion for good causes.

So, in the next few minutes I want to talk to you about:

  • the commercial opportunity the next licence competition presents
  • what will success look like?
  • how you can help us shape the future of the National Lottery.

What is the opportunity?

The National Lottery is one of the largest lotteries in the world.

  • fourteen million people take part in draw-based games every month and many more play other games in the National Lottery portfolio
  • the National Lottery generated almost £7 billion sales in 2017/18
  • forecasts predict growth in sales to more than £9.4 billion by 2023.

In short, the National Lottery has been an incredible success. And looking forward, the potential of the National Lottery is huge. Harnessing technology, understanding consumer behaviour and innovating to keep players engaged and safe are the keys to unlocking that potential. Many businesses, including some of the businesses you represent, have the infrastructure and expertise to participate in this competition either on their own or in partnership with others.

That’s why I would like to share your thinking about the future of the National Lottery and how we can maximise its potential.

What will success look like?

The Gambling Commission came into existence in 2005 and we took over the regulation of the National Lottery in October 2013. Our remit expanded further in 2014 when we took on the regulation of all online gambling operators who supply services to consumers in Great Britain. I think we can demonstrate a strong track record of regulating all those areas firmly but fairly. Where we need to take firm action to change people’s behaviour we will do so. But at the same time we want to encourage innovation and collaboration as a way of driving up standards.

At the heart of our work is the question: how to balance consumer choice and enjoyment against the risks that gambling can present? That is the fundamental challenge we face. It has obvious parallels with the debate about the benefits and risks that technology can present and, in a number of areas, the issues overlap.

Ultimately, the Gambling Commission’s success will always be judged by the outcome for consumers and the public. That is why we are constantly looking for opportunities to use innovation to make gambling fairer and safer.

So, putting consumers at the heart of our approach to regulation of the National Lottery, a successful competition will need to deliver three things:

  • a National Lottery that is run properly and with integrity
  • a National Lottery with a fantastic portfolio of games, which give players the best and safest possible player experience
  • a National Lottery that generates the best possible returns for good causes, which benefits British society.

How can you join the conversation?

The formal competition process will kick-off early next year.

We are currently in the early market engagement phase, which is why I am here. I am here to invite you to come and have a conversation with us about the opportunities we should explore.

You know the future of media and telecoms much better than I do, so please come and talk to us about your ideas to make the National Lottery innovative and enjoyable and ensuring that we keep it as safe as possible for all players.

The National Lottery has been an amazing success and I hope you will agree that the competition for the next licence to run the National Lottery is an amazing opportunity.

In terms of next steps, we’re hosting an event with techUK on Monday 25th March to bring together people from organisations across all industries from around the world to talk us about the future of the National Lottery. It would be great to see you there.

Thank-you for your time and if you have any questions please come and talk to me. In the meantime, please visit our website and get in touch to join the conversation.

Last updated: 24 August 2021

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