UKGC CEO Blasts Bikini Models at Gaming Conference

The CEO of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), Sarah Harrison, has blasted betting operators for their use of bikini-clad models at an industry conference.

ICE gaming conference Playboy.

UKGC CEO calls for an end to the objectification of women at gaming conferences and the betting industry as a whole. (Image:

In a speech delivered ahead of the ICE Totally Gaming expo in London, Harrison highlighted what she believes is a double standard not only at the conference but the industry as a whole.

“This is an industry where we have a number of talented, powerful and successful women, yet from walking around the exhibition you wouldn’t know this. Instead you saw men representing their companies wearing expensive tailored suits whilst their female colleagues were expected to wear nothing more than swimsuits,” Harrison said at the World Regulatory Briefing on February 5.

Industry Sexism Under the Microscope

After noting a trend at ICE 2017, Harrison was quick to say that the UKGC would withdraw its participation from the event if things didn’t improve. The call by the CEO follows recent decisions by the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) and Formula One to end the longstanding practice of walkout girls.

Despite criticising the use of models at ICE, Harrison did admit that the behaviour was far removed from some of the sexual misconduct cases that have made the headlines in recent months.

“You had paunchy slot machine buyers going up to get their pictures taken with them. It was a bit pathetic, but I’ve never seen any predatory behaviour like the Presidents Club,” Harrison went on to say.

In response to claims that areas of the conference are sexist, Clarion Gaming’s head of content strategy, Ewa Bakun, told The Guardian that it had applied “soft pressure” on exhibitors this year.

For Harrison, however, more needs to be done, not only to achieve some form of political correctness but to create a more diverse industry that’s better equipped to respond to customer needs.

A Commitment to Quality

Although the latest statement from the head of the UKGC is more of a wish than a regulatory demand, it will be one that’s likely to live on beyond Harrison’s tenure.

The current CEO is due to leave her position at the end of February to take up a senior role in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Current UKGC chief counsel and executive director Neil McArthur will become interim CEO while a permanent replacement for Harrison is found.

In spite of the upheaval, the regulator will maintain its commitment to customer service, which, as recent statements suggest, will mean less sexism across the industry.


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