The government is reported to have delayed publication of the gambling white paper until after the summer recess.
UK.- There’s been much speculation about the fate of the UK’s already long-delayed review of gambling legislation following the resignation of prime minister Boris Johnson. The Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport has been saying all year that its white paper will be published “soon”, but that was put seriously in doubt after Chris Philp, the minister responsible, resigned.
Responsibility has now been handed to Damian Collins, but Boris Johnson had suggested that there will be no new policy announcements until his successor is chosen. The Daily Mail’s lead reporter for gambling affairs, Tom Witherow, has now confirmed that, reporting that the white paper will not be made public until the governing Conservative Party has chosen a new leader.
That would mean that the gambling white paper won’t be published until after the summer recess, which begins at the end of this month. A new PM is expected to be installed in September.
The DCMS had continued to say the gambling white paper would be published but Witherow reports that the government sources have confirmed that it was felt to be inappropriate to “bind” the next administration to reforms it didn’t oversee.
Iain Duncan Smith, deputy leader of the cross-party Gambling Related Harm APPG tweeted: “I’m very disappointed. There was an opportunity to get this done long before this leadership election. It’s not cancelled, just postponed – so it will be for the new leader. I’m not going away, I will keep fighting for reform.”
However, Jack Brereton, Tory MP for Stoke-on-Trent South, had argued in favour of a pause while also expressing concern about some of the leaked contents of the gambling white paper.
He said: “As with all other big decisions for government we should pause the white paper until we have a new PM and a new cabinet. Important policies impacting the lives of millions cannot be rushed through haphazardly.
“The government has a choice in the coming weeks. Whatever twists and turns come in the storyline of Britain’s political life, this crucial issue affecting millions, must never become a sideshow. Betting and gaming, its customers and all those who work in the industry deserve better.”
The MP, whose constituency neighbours that where bet365 has its head office, raised concerns over reports that a mandatory levy on gambling operators may still be on the table and also about the inclusion of stringent affordability checks.
He said: “Instead of protecting punters, this could push them to an increasingly predatory unregulated black market, where the numbers of customers has swelled to the hundreds of thousands and the amount bet is now in the billions.”
He also criticised plans to lift the stake limit on electronic slots for only some casinos, with 70 of the UK’s 121 casinos “too small” to qualify.