Change “long overdue” says UK gambling secretary

Change “long overdue” says UK gambling secretary

Chris Philp told this week’s Gambling Reform Rally that the government’s gambling white paper will be published “very soon”.

UK.- The British government’s under-secretary of state for technology and the digital economy, Chris Philp, has told campaigners that gambling reform is “long overdue” and that “change is coming”. He told a Gambling Reform Rally held by organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm APPG (APPG) and Peers for Gambling Reform (PGR) the government’s proposals for reform will be published very soon.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport launched a review of British gambling legislation in the last quarter of 2020 but has yet to publish an expected gambling white paper outlining proposed reforms. Philp has given some hints in the past about what might be expected, including a single-customer view for operators and affordability caps.

The government is also expect to introduce restrictions on online casino stakes and on advertising in sport.

Speaking at this week’s rally, Philp made reference to a case in which a man was jailed for stealing from his company to fund his gambling habit, and to the recent inquest into the death of man who struggled with gambling problems. He also mentioned the Gambling Commission’s recent £9.4 million fine against 888 for social responsibility and money laundering failures as one example of “too many cases of operators failing to meet their duties to protect people”.

He said: “That is simply not right, and it shouldn’t take the Gambling Commission acting after the event to catch them. It shouldn’t happen in the first place.”

While he didn’t give away anything new about the possible contents of the government’s delayed white paper, Philps again brought up the topic of data sharing.

He said: “One of the things I’ve spoken about previously is the role that technology and data can play in preventing harm from arising, because the big gambling companies have enormous troves of data which they use very effectively for the purposes of cross-selling, and encouraging people to gamble more.

“I think we need to use that data to help protect the public, which means having a regulator that has the powers and capability to get hold of that data and properly analyse it, to understand where bad practices are happening and ensure compliance.

“There is a new chair and chief executive of the Gambling Commission who were appointed in the middle of last year, who we are working closely with, to try and figure out these changes.”

He stressed that the UK was a “free country” where people had the right to gamble but said it was the the industry and government’s responsibility to prevent harm.

He said: “It wouldn’t be appropriate or proportionate to have intrusive checks for someone who is betting relatively small amounts of money on the Grand National. But there are definitely levels of more significant gambling losses where proper checks should be done.

“That is the kind of intervention we’re looking at, in a way that is proportionate and balanced. Obviously, there are legitimate customer concerns about privacy that need to be balanced with the imperative to prevent harm. We’re going to make sure that balance is struck in a reasonable way.”

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