British gambling white paper reportedly delayed

The UK government
The UK government

Twelve months on, it’s been reported that the results of the UK goverment’s review of gambling legislation has been pushed back to next year.

UK.- With the end of the year fast approaching, it’s looking unlikely that we’ll see the results of the UK government’s review of gambling legislation this year, and various news reports seem to now confirm that.

The Guardian has reported that publication of the white paper on gambling reforms will be pushed back into the new year.

Chris Philp, the minister at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport responsible for gambling, has been notably reticent about when the government’s report will be published.

Speaking at the annual GambleAware conference last week, he said only that it would be published “in the coming months”.

According to The Guardian, the government is unlikely to publish the paper until the Gambling Commission has announced its approved bidder for the next UK National Lottery licence.

Its announcement has been put back to February, with the ten-year National Lottery licence now not due to start until February 2024.

Other possible causes for the prolongment of the review are the changes at the government and the regulator itself.

Philp was only appointed in September, replacing John Whittingdale in a cabinet reshuffle that saw Nadine Dorries named as culture secretary.

Meanwhile, the British regulator, The Gambling Commission, has also seen a changing of chairs with Andrew Rhodes appointed as interim chief executive in June following former chief executive Neil McArthur‘s surprise resignation, and Marcus Boyle named Gambling Commission chair in September.

The Gambling Commission also found itself at the centre of criticism following the collapse of Football Index in March, which resulted in a government investigation.

Voices had already been raised against so many changes among key decision-makers for the industry while the government was in the middle of reviewing gambling legislation for the first time since 2005.

Now campaigners are criticising the government’s delay in publishing the outcome of a review that began a year ago.

Labour MP Carolyn Harris, who chairs the All-Party Group on Gambling-related Harm, told the Guardian the review process had “gone on for long enough”.

She said: “The government made a commitment to reform our gambling laws in 2019. Two years later they are still deliberating while the online industry is weakly regulated, reaps vast profits and people continue to be harmed.”

Liz Ritchie, co-founder of the campaigning charity Gambling with Lives, said: “Every day at least one person takes their life because of gambling.”

The group recently launched a campaign demanding that a regulatory investigation take place in every case of suicide where gambling is a factor.

“Every delay means more families shattered. When will the government act?,” she added.

What will be in the government’s gambling white paper?

While it’s unknown what exactly the government will propose as the result of its review of gambling legislation, it’s been widely predicted that more advertising restrictions will be on the way.

The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has expressed support for banning gambling sponsorship in football, something that has been strongly criticised by the industry and the English Football League.

It’s also expected that the review will take up proposals for deposit caps and restrictions on game design for online slots, as proposed by the UK’s House of Lords.

Philp himself has suggested that the white paper will propose the creation of a single-customer view for gaming and a “soft cap” on deposits, which would require players to pass affordability checks before spending more than a fixed amount.

However, he’s suggested that the amount would be higher than the £100 threshold for affordability checks that the Gambling Commission had proposed in a consultation last year.

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