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Having close relationships key to former cop’s successful Gibraltar gambling regulation
With a sharp focus on the industry and its users, 60 years old former top British ‘cop’ Phill Brear is still working to protect consumers and ‘police’ Gibraltar’s gambling companies, Ray Spencer finds
years there has also been an influx of business-to-business (B2B) companies servicing business to consumer (B2C) opera- tors. Both continue to face consolidation pressures.
“We have a couple of full B2C applications in the pipeline and two or three B2B operations; it is slowing down though, in that they are taking longer to come to fruition”, Brear remarks. “For every one we license, it seems that two merge.”
From being appointed the Regulator in 2007, his first three years allowed more time to go to conferences and getting the word out about what Gibraltar offered. “We then had any number of regulators visit us – from America, Europe, Australasia – who all used phrases around ‘until you see it, you don’t believe it’ in terms of just how it works by being such a small place.
“It is about having a very active regulatory engagement model - where nobody is invisible, nobody is unknown to us - by only licensing people of substance and high repute, that can give you a high quality, relatively well-delivered, safe and profitable product,” Brear says.
He is stepping down in late January as Gibraltar’s Head of Gambling Regulation to make way for successor, Andrew Lyman, as executive director and head of the government’s Gambling Division. Lyman is currently director of regulatory affairs at William Hill in London.
But Brear is not leaving. For a while he will remain as Gibraltar’s Gambling Commissioner. He had planned to retire (despite friends suggesting he would quickly regret it, “I’m not convinced”). The government wants him to provide “strategic advice over a period of time and to ensure a smooth transition, so there is no sudden loss of corporate knowledge. “I’ll stay as long as I think it is necessary for me to do it, but you can’t build around me long term – I’ve already given my long term,” he declares.
“I’m quite happy to do that, because in Andrew we have somebody who probably knows a lot more about some things in the industry and about being a regulator than I do, he having previously also been with the UK Financial Services Commission, HMRC and the UK Gambling Commission, as well as eight years in the industry.” But Gibraltar’s
Gambling Act needs rewriting, “because the text is 15 years old and is not as well-tuned as it now needs to be, to reflect the way the industry has developed - it is more sophisticated and fragmented than it used to be.”
At the core of Gibraltar’s regulatory model is the requirement to establish and maintain personal relationships with operators. Brear is emphatic: “We don’t regulate at arm’s length; we don’t regulate from a distance. We regulate by knowing the companies and the key personnel in those companies and they knowing what our expectations are.”
And then comes the rap. “I see other regulators try to regulate without effective relationships and I’m afraid it ends in tears. I’ve come across lots of people who believe they can regulate by publishing a turgid document and pushing out rules. _In my experience that approach takes you only so far, but it doesn’t actually deliver what you are seeking to achieve.”
Getting systems and people to work better, taking personal responsibility and achieving results have defined Brear’s life from the time he decided to join the police in 1973 aged 17 to go to police cadet college in Lancashire, through to when he retired in 2005 as Deputy Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Constabulary.
Rising star
In between, the “seemingly ambitious” Brear was identified as: “a bright young thing”, including getting top marks in the country in the Inspector’s exam aged 22: as “having high potential” by being amongst a couple of dozen officers sent in 1982 to the National Police College; and “a rising star” when at 30 he emerged from full-time secondment to Manchester University with a 1st Class Honours Degree in Management Sciences – a combination of psychology, sociology, accountancy, HR Management – “all the things that help you to run an organisation”.
He stayed in West Yorkshire for seven years moving from Assistant to Deputy Chief Constable and a short period as Acting Chief Constable. “Most police ‘chief’s were earning the same or less than me - I was
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“We don’t regulate at arm’s length” Phill Brear, Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner
In 2005 when straight-talking Brear was ready to retire from police work after 32 years, his short time as police advisor to
the British Gaming Board eased open the door to become their senior gambling regulator.
Two years later he switched to Gibraltar and in the process has become the go-to source for all aspects of remote gambling, advising government and regulators far and wide “on managing a fast moving and dynamic industry of which every state in the world tries to get a piece of the action”
While Gibraltar is said to be the premier world location for remote gambling regulation, his 12 years dealing with gambling companies has led Brear to reflect: “At the macro level it has been maintaining or convincing the world that we are as good as we believe and say we are.”
And it is the greater certainty and security of a well-defined regulatory policy that has encouraged the major remote gambling companies to locate operations on The Rock. There are 30 licensees now, but in the past decade 25 have been issued to new companies. At least ten have been absorbed by competitors over the last five years following mergers and acquisitions.	In recent
Gibraltar International

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