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Paul Darling appointed new ABB chairman

27 March 2014

THE Association of British Bookmakers has looked outside the betting industry for its new chairman, appointing Paul Darling to succeed Neil Goulden.

Darling, whose appointment takes effect from May 1, joins the ABB from the Levy Board, where he has been a government-appointed member since 2008. His second three-year term at the board was due to end this summer and he will step down from the position in May.

Immediately before joining the Levy Board, Darling, 54, had been a non-executive director of the Tote, while his experience in racing includes having been a member of the Royal Ascot Racing Club - he was one of the owners of 2005 Derby winner Motivator - as well as a past member of the Racehorse Owners Association and Thoroughbred Breeders' Association.

Goulden said Darling had beaten candidates from bookmaking, the wider racing industry, retailing and the political sphere to land the job.

His knowledge of the issues facing bookmakers, his passion for racing and desire to build a better relationship between bookmakers and the sport, and his independence, were major factors behind his appointment.

Goulden said: "He has independence and is an eloquent advocate on one side. He has knowledge of bookmaking and the issues facing it on the other, and will be able to build a good relationship with racing, which we think is very important."

He added: "I wish him well in a role that I'm sure he'll find interesting, challenging and enormous fun."

Darling, who will join the ABB at a time when the betting industry is having to deal with considerable political pressure over issues like gaming machines, was called to the Bar in 1983 and is a specialist in construction, engineering and energy law.

He was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1999 and head of Keating Chambers in 2010. He is also chairman of the Sports Ground Safety Authority.

He said of his new role: "Despite the undoubted difficulties which the bookmaking industry faces, I know this is an exciting time to be involved in it, and I relish the challenge. I very much hope to contribute to an analytical evidence-based approach to the issues."

He added: "I'm also a lifelong supporter of British horseracing and look forward to continuing the recent constructive dialogue between the bookmaking industry and racing."

Darling said: "I found my time at the Levy Board fascinating and have been glad to contribute to a lot of developments over the last six years which I think have been positive under two excellent chairmen."

One of those, the current incumbent Paul Lee, paid tribute to Darling yesterday.

He said: "I really do think they have done extraordinarily well to attract a man of his calibre, experience and interest in betting and racing. We wish him every success."

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