First legal chief for UK Gambling Commission

The UK Gambling Commission has hired its first general counsel to oversee the UK’s internet gambling industry, just as the US Department of Justice (DoJ) signalled a crackdown with the arrest of BetonSports chief executive David Carruthers.

The UK aims to be a home for a regulated gambling industry and the hire of the General Teaching Council’s chief lawyer Neil McArthur shows a moderation in sharp contrast to the tough line pursued by the US authorities.

The US DoJ sparked fears of a wave of extraditions of UK gaming executives as it works a tax evasion charge into its indictment.

The general counsel of a rival online gaming company commented: “This is consistent with what [the US has] done in the past, which is to go after operators with a particular model.”

He said BetonSports was at risk because a large proportion of its revenue comes from US sports book wagering and it has a US founder in Gary Kaplan.

Under the terms of the Extradition Treaty 2003, accusations of tax evasion expose UK directors with US-facing operations, as it is illegal in both the UK and US as opposed to gambling, which is not. Mark Spragg, a partner at Jeffrey Green Russell and adviser to the extradited three former NatWest executives, said: “This has nothing to do with tax evasion in reality.”

Two weeks ago the US House of Representatives approved a Republican bill to crack down on internet gambling, while the UK regulator’s role is to make sure the gambling industry flourishes within a safe environment.

The UK Gambling Commission is searching for two more enforcement lawyers to join McArthur and complete a full legal team.

At the moment the commission outsources all of its legal work to niche firm Gregory Rowcliffe Milners.

New York litigation firm Kronish Lieb Weiner & Hellman is advising BetonSports in the US. McGrigors and Mishcon de Reya, which helped float the company, are advising the company in the UK.