Gala nets lobbyist for issues management

Craig Leviton, MD of public affairs firm LLM, is joining gambling giant Gala Coral as corporate affairs director.

Leviton will join in June as the first corporate affairs chief at Britain's largest private company. The position will see him sit on its executive committee.

Leviton said: ‘There are huge political and commercial challenges in the gaming industry.' He added: ‘Gala Coral is an enterprising company and Britain's biggest gaming outfit.'

Leviton will have a plethora of issues to manage at Gala Coral, not least its heavily mooted IPO. The casino, bookmaker and bingo group is owned by a number of private equity firms - itself an issue as PE practice comes under greater media scrutiny.

The gambling industry is going through a period of significant change. This year Manchester won a recommendation to house the country's first ‘super-casino'.

This week it was ann­ounced that a ban on the advertising of gambling would be scrapped. The ban currently affects TV and radio adverts for casinos, betting shops and gambling websites.

Gala Coral CEO Neil Goulden said: ‘Gala Coral is now a FTSE 100 sized company with a wide range of stakeholders. We have created the role of corporate affairs director because we need to ensure a consistent message, whether we are speaking to government, staff, the regulator, the City or consumers.'

Leviton will be the prime contact for Gala Coral's agencies as the group plots international expansion over the coming months.

He will work with group comms manager Sarah Mercer, whose role is unaffected by the app­ointment.

Leviton has a varied CV, including a three-year stint working with MPs and All-Party Parliamentary Groups in the House of Commons. He is also a former consultant at the then Shandwick.

He joined LLM in 1997, ascending to the MD role in June 2004.

The Financial Dynamics-owned agency has moved quickly to replace Leviton. FD chief executive Charles Watson said LLM partner Fiona Mason has assumed the MD's responsibilities.

Leviton will continue at LLM until June, overseeing the handover.

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