Labour MP calls for Gambling Act review to support British business

The British government has yet to publish its gambling white paper.
The British government has yet to publish its gambling white paper.

John Spellar MP has called on the government to reverse its trend of letting down British businesses. 

UK.- The Labour Party MP John Spellar has urged the UK government to support British business in its review of gambling legislation. Despite the fact that the gambling white paper is supposed to be almost finished, stakeholders continue to make input on the review of the 2005 Gambling Act, which is already a year late.

Writing in The House for the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), Spellar called on the government to show support for British business ‘success stories’, noting examples such as bet365, which is the biggest private sector employer in Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire.

He argued that to date the Conservative government had let down British businesses, for example by having UK passports made in Poland and by granting shipping contracts to overseas firms.

With a likely recession on the horizon, Spellar said the British gambling sector needs certainty as the government continues to delay the publication of its gambling white paper.

He said: “the government need to ensure that any changes that it is proposing in a new Gambling White Paper are sensible and proportionate, not suggestions such as imposing blanket affordability checks at very low levels”. 

“This will only fuel the growth of the lucrative and unregulated black market, which has none of the safer gambling measures in place in the regulated market and contributes nothing to the UK in terms of jobs, taxation or investment in the sports we all love,” Spellar further explained.

He cited an EY report demonstrating the extent of the gambling industry’s contribution to the British economy and sports, supporting 110,000 jobs, generating £7.1bn for the general economy, £4.2bn in taxes £350m for horse racing, £40m for the EFL, £10m for darts and snooker and £2.5m for rugby league.

He noted that the introduction of tougher gambling regulations in France and Italy had led to 66 per cent and 57 per cent of cash wagered going to black market operators.

At a time when the public finances are in disarray, the country cannot afford for thousands of punters to be heading offshore to the black market,” he added. “Any money spent there will not contribute to the UK economy nor fund our essential public services.

“We cannot have this uncertainty for such a large and successful industry going forward. That is why the Government needs to get on with publishing the Gambling White Paper, providing protections where they are needed but must not put at risk yet another British industry.”

At the start of December, Paul Scully, the minister now responsible, said the paper would be published “in a few weeks,” which is what the government has been saying for months.

UK select committee investigating government approach to gambling regulation

More than two years after beginning a review of gambling legislation, the UK government has yet to publish its gambling white paper. But an investigation into its approach is already underway.

The timing might seem strange, but the Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) select committee, which scrutinises the department’s work, has announced an inquiry into “the government’s approach to the regulation of gambling”.  The 11-strong cross-party group said it was starting the inquiry because of “warnings that more needs to be done to protect people”.

The committee said: “The DCMS committee inquiry will be investigating the progress the government has made in addressing the issues raised by parliament, how to ensure regulation can keep up with innovations in online gambling and the links between gambling and broadcasting and sport.”

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) welcomed the move, saying that the inquiry would provide “further opportunity for the regulated industry to show our continued commitment to raising standards in safer gambling and to demonstrating our support for the UK economy”.

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