Simon Thomas has completed his term as chairman of the NCF’s Strategy Forum, having led the campaign to modernise and harmonise the casino industry. 

Combining the role with his position as chief executive of the Hippodrome Casino, he applied the insights gleaned from its success in attracting more than 35,000 customers a week to outline a positive vision for casinos in the 21st century. He said the key to a healthy industry was for casinos to employ high numbers of highly trained staff and to be appropriately regulated, while being allowed to provide a wide range of products to their customers without a 20-machine limit in many venues. 

Chairing meetings with his characteristic bonhomie, he brought together operators and helped foster an atmosphere of co-operation to share best practice and allow the sector to speak with one voice. He nurtured strong relationships with senior politicians and opinion formers, making the case in Whitehall for reform and emphasising the sector’s positive contribution to the UK economy.

Simon Thomas said: 

“The NCF Strategy Forum matters because it is the voice of the casino industry –  the NCF is the only trade association in the gambling industry which can claim 100% of operators as members. It lobbies for improvements to the industry and fights against threats to the casino sector.

The Strategy Forum has provided stable leadership at a turbulent time for the industry, supporting Tracy Damestani’s great work as chief executive and advancing our strategic objectives. We have put in place a solid structure and strong platform, with a commitment to working collaboratively.

I am delighted Richard Noble is taking over as chairman of the Strategy Forum, with Mike Rothwell as his Vice Chair. The resolution of the FOBT issue by government will allow us to progress the aims of the NCF, our priority being to improve the casino business through sensible deregulation, allowing harmonisation and modernisation. In particular, this should involve a review of the number of gaming machines allowed in casinos. Achieving this objective will allow casinos to develop into modern entertainment complexes, giving our customers the same experiences they can enjoy abroad”.

Tracy Damestani, chief executive of the National Casino Forum, said:

“I am very grateful to Simon for his huge contribution to the work of the NCF as chairman of our strategy forum. It is a very important role and he has performed it with great efficiency and affability, as well as always being a generous host at the Hippodrome. 

Simon has laid the foundations for the important work ahead as we provide evidence of how we are enhancing customer protection through innovative and evidence-based research projects. I am sure he will continue to be closely involved in the work of the Strategy Forum and that we will continue to benefit from his experience”.