Rhodes: gambling white paper delay “no excuse not to tackle problems now”

The UK government
The UK government

The CEO of the Gambling Commission spoke at the Westminster Media Forum Gambling Regulation Conference.

UK.- Even the Gambling Commission is getting impatient with the UK government’s increasingly delayed gambling white paper. But newly confirmed CEO Andrew Rhodes has said that the delay is no excuse for operators to “hold their breath and wait”.

Rhodes spokes this week at the Westminster Media Forum Gambling Regulation Conference more than 18 months after the government began its review of the 2005 Gambling Act but still with no firm details on what new legislation will be proposed.

The government has been promising all year that the white paper is coming soon, with its publication put back to spring. Now as spring turns to summer, there’s been plenty of rumour in the press about what’s in store.

Rhodes told the conference that publication is “getting closer”, but said that the wait was not “an excuse not to tackle problems now”.

He said: “We don’t accept that, we don’t accept that anything should come before making sure you are trading as fair and as safe as possible. All the rest should be secondary.

“I have to believe it is possible to have a successful and innovative gambling industry that provides something its consumers want but can do so in a responsible way, eradicating the inexcusable excesses we still see today, and expanding the good practice we also see.

“For those operators who understand this, we will continue to work with them towards that shared goal. To anyone else offering gambling to consumers in Great Britain, whether with a licence or not, then I’m afraid that is the time when the House always loses.”

Areas of concern for the Gambling Commission

Rhodes highlights several areas of concern for the British regulator, including the ‘gamblification’ of products not covered by existing legislation – particularly video game loot boxes, but also NFTs, crypto products and so-called synthetic shares. 

He said: “In the unregulated spaces around [the gambling industry] we see too many hangers-on trying to make a quick buck from the harm they cause.”

Rhodes recognised that the problem gambling rate had fallen but stressed that there are still hundreds of thousands of people at risk. He said this required the regulator and operators to make better use of data. He said that there were still too many operators big and small who were making mistakes.

In April, Rhodes used his appearance at the ICE 2022 World Regulatory Briefing in London to call for international gambling regulators to collaborate to tackle new challenges brought by changes in the industry.

He voiced hope for collaboration not only in sharing experiences and best practice, but also to conduct joint investigations and actions.

He told attendees: “Many of the operators we deal with in Great Britain will be the same as those dealt with in other jurisdictions. Things that are not being done well here are likely to be issues in other countries, too, when you consider these are multinationals. I hope that we can get to a point of joint investigations and joint action and move beyond some of the good things we already do.”

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