The annual Conservative Party conference included a panel discussion on the gambling white paper, but nothing was made clear.
UK.- The UK government’s two-year review of gambling legislation continues to drag on with no more clarity on when, or even if, a gambling white paper will finally be published to propose legal changes.
The paper was due to be published at the start of this year. It was delayed by several months and then delayed again by the Conservative Party’s leadership implosion. The white paper was supposedly all but ready to go, but there’s since been speculation that the overhaul of gambling legislation might be scrapped altogether.
The presence of a panel on “the gambling white paper and the future of reform” at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham this week would suggest that’s not the case, but the only thing that seemed clear was that even the party itself doesn’t know where things stand.
The former party leader Iain Duncan Smith, vice chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Harm, said that the gambling white paper remained a “work in progress” and that it’s “not altogether certain where the government is right now”.
He said: “The problem is that names have all changed and people who therefore knew something about it are no longer in the posts that they were.
‘It’s a case of re-education and getting people to understand what they are sitting on and why it’s necessary. So that may take a little bit more time. But as I say nobody has come out with an absolute ‘no, this should not go through’.”
Duncan Smith said that Chris Philp, who was responsible for the review until his resignation in protest at Boris Johnson’s leadership, wants to proceed with reforms from his new role as chief secretary to the treasury, despite concerns about a loss of gambling revenue. The review is now the responsibility of Damian Collins as parliamentary under-secretary for tech and the digital economy.
Duncan Smith told the Racing Post: “It’s going to be one of those things where the government will have to balance the time they have for doing it and whether or not they’re driven to do it for the right reasons, and that’s really a game of persuasion I guess.”
The panel at the Conservative Party Conference was organised by the think tank Social Market Foundation (SMF). Other members were Professor Henrietta Bowden-Jones OBE from the National Clinical Advisor on Gambling Harms, Ravi Naik, legal director at AWO Agency, and Matt Zarb-Cousin, the director of Clean Up Gambling.