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that style of management.” A chance meeting at the 2007 European
Regulator’s conference in Croatia led to him applying for the No 2 post on The Rock with no guarantee that he’d be any happier – “it was just a feeling; I was apprehensive, but I knew after 30 something years that I’ve never had a job I’ve failed in.”
Can close relationships with those being regulated be misinterpreted? “No-one ever says that I am a soft touch – at times people dodge me; they know I ask difficult questions. You can’t have a cozy relationship with
Having close relationships key to former cop’s successful Gibraltar gambling regulation Continuedfromp16
red cards!) Along the way Brear has also gained
a Cambridge University diploma in Criminology in 1997 and the Queen’s Police Medal for distinguished police service in 2006.
He rails against anti-gambling UK media and politicians who “have lost their sense of perspective”. A recent UK survey shows 60% of adults gamble, but mostly on the National Lottery, with a relatively small proportion visiting casinos and betting shops, or playing bingo, and “a very small proportion
‘ you can’t have a cozy relationship with somebody who is as prickly as I can be
amongst the 15 or 20 best-paid police officer in the country – deputies get 85% of the chief’s salary and Yorkshire was the fourth biggest force in the country; promotion would have been a pay cut.”
No more greasy pole
Able to retire with 30 years police service, he was 49 years old and ready to break out.	“Forget chasing the next job up the greasy pole; I was ready to go onto something else. By that stage, it massively appealed to me to do something else.”
However, Brear’s transition to civvy street wasn’t smooth. His head initially had been turned by an offer to become national lead officer for a project to get the best, or more, out of all police forces working for the UK Home Office, as part of a government performance improvement strategy.
Instead, he felt becoming deputy chief at the UK Gambling Commission offered longer-term security. “With gambling, you could see that it offered 5-10 years, rather than 2-3 years at the Home Office.”
In two years he helped transform the Gaming Board into the Gambling Commission, moved offices from London to Birmingham, adopt new legislation and quadruple staff to over 200 with more responsibilities that included bringing the betting industry into formal regulation for the first time. But things did not go smoothly.
He explains: “I have long said that the head and deputy must be two sides of the same coin, but we didn’t see things the same way and much as I tried to adjust my approach – to trim my sails or change my view - I realised it wasn’t working and I found it extremely difficult to fit into that culture,
somebody who is as prickly as I can be, and	gamble on-line – something around 8-10% of I’m very well known for being prepared to	the population”.
There’s no denying gambling can be entertaining: Phill Brear
on casinos
ask direct questions whenever I see fit.” Brear recalls: “We lost somebody last year – Digibet; a Malta company bought them and said they wanted the firm to do things in a certain way, but we said they could not, so they left. Yes, it’s 12-15 jobs, yes it is £1⁄2m in taxes; we are not compromising the model
just for a single company.” Softly spoken, Brear declares: “I tell
people if they want to go, go. Don’t tell me you are thinking of leaving in the hope I change something, just go. It’s not my job to convince them to stay.”
On having disappointments in Gibraltar, Brear suggests: “Things have happened where we wished they hadn’t and it’s always very easy to get into the blame game, and that’s what we are seeing some regulators do now. The reality is that bugs in systems do happen, they get hacked, staff and managers make mistakes, but we have to keep these in perspective. What we have always looked for is whether it was done with bad intent or through neglect.”
He went on: “The cops have a phrase that doesn’t transfer directly, but it is called policing by consent. It just means that the police have to have some sympathy and understanding about the day-to-day life and activities of their community, so the police are allowed to apply a level of discretion.
Yellow cards
“Here in Gibraltar, we sometimes refer to yellow cards. I’ve had discussions with operators and said this is a yellow card – if this happens again, then we are looking at taking action.” (He declined to discuss
Albert Isola, Gibraltar minister responsible for gambling, says Brear has overseen a transformation of the gambling industry, much as he did in the police. Brear is quietly immodest: “I have always found myself able to both deliver, and innovate and improve. Anything I have ever been given professionally; it has always been my wish to get it done better; in public service that means more efficient delivery of things, a better outcome at a lower cost.”
Brear considers the UK legislation setting out to require new licences and company tax on bets placed by UK residents was wrongly predicated on the basis that what existed was not working, given that Gibraltar- based companies accounted for 60% of UK business and much of the rest was with the so-called White Listed jurisdictions.
The real issue, he maintains is that the UK wanted to tax operators and to have a better view of the remote world just as every State in Europe was doing. “but the way they have done it...we think there is a better way of finding out those things, of getting a clearer, better, stronger industry.	If I can put it this way – they are learning some of those lessons the hard way.”
Brear is not a gambling man: “I go to a casino 5-6 times a year. Whilst I enjoy watching people play, I rarely put my money on the table, but there is no denying that generally, gambling can be great entertainment.”
He reflects: “You do find that Gibraltar gets in your blood. I came here expecting to do three to five years; I’ve done ten and I’m not actually leaving!”
Gibraltar International

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