Neil Goulden Resigns from RGT Amid Conflict of Interest Claims

Neil Goulden leaves RGT.

RGT chair Neil Goulden resigns from his role amid allegations that he had a conflict of interest with British bookmakers. (Image: Press Association)

Neil Goulden, the former chief executive of Gala Coral, is to step down from his role as the chair of the Responsible Gambling Trust (RGT).

It’s been just over a week since it emerged that Goulden had potentially exploited his relationship with the RGT to help boost his relationship with the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) and now he’s announced his decision to leave the Trust.

According to reports, Goulden worked on a 2013 paper that called for the ABB to refocus its marketing efforts in order to “position gambling as an economically valuable and socially responsible leisure pursuit.”

A Potential Conflict of Interest

The  paper was seen as a conflict of interest as, just a few months before, Goulden had launched a study into the negative effects of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) in his role as chair of the RGT.

When news of Goulden’s dual relationship came to light, many were quick to suggest that he was able to tipoff bookmakers in such a way that they could counteract any negative results from the study.

The news also prompted speculation that the RGT is an unreliable organisation because of its relationship with gambling operators (it’s partly funded by betting companies).

In light of the recent discontent, Goulden has announced that he will no longer serve as chair of the RGT. The search for Goulden’s successor will be led by the RGT’s Professor Jo Wolff and Goulden will remain as chair until a replacement is found.

In Other News…Operators Rebel Against British Horseracing Authority

In other UK gambling news this week, the battle between bookmakers and the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) continued recently after Gala Coral offered an ultimatum to the racing industry’s governing body.

Under new conditions laid out by the BHA and supported by the British government, all offshore bookmakers have been asked to become Authorised Betting Partners (ABPs) of the BHA if they want to continue sponsoring races across the country.

As it stands, only three companies have become ABPs (bet365, Betfair and 32Red) and there’s growing tension among other operators and the BHA.

Indeed, with just nine weeks to go until the famous Cheltenham Festival, Ladbrokes’ decade-long sponsorship of the popular World Hurdle race is now under threat after it refused to become an ABP.

One of the main bones of contention among operators is the “voluntary” contribution they have to make to the BHA if they want to become ABPs.

Addressing this issue earlier this week, Gala Coral’s CEO, Carl Leaver, stated that he’d “happily” pay the 7.5 percent levy on online profits, but only if he could pay the same rate on his offline retail profits (the rate is currently 10.5 percent).

In response to the statement, the BHA has said that 7.5 percent isn’t a “realistic” starting point for negotiations, which is bound to cause yet more tension between the BHA and the operators that enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship with the British horseracing industry.

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