UK gambling white paper still due “in next few weeks”

The gambling white paper was originally due early last year.
The gambling white paper was originally due early last year.

Minister Paul Scully spoke at the Betting and Gaming Council’s Annual General Meeting

UK.- The minister responsible for gambling Paul Scully has told the Betting and Gaming Council’s Annual General Meeting that the government’s long-delayed gambling white paper will be published “in the next few weeks”.

Scully told the BGC the paper will balance business and consumer interests and said “we do want to have the white paper out in the next few weeks”. However, he again stressed that the paper’s publication will not be the end of the reform process.

“I want to be clear though, that the white paper is not the final word on gambling reform. It will be followed by consultations led by both DCMS and the Gambling Commission. I want the industry to stay engaged as policies are refined, finalised and implemented.”

That echoes comments the minister made in early December.

He added: “We are putting the finishing touches to our white paper, making the final decisions and preparing for publication. We’re a matter of weeks away from you all seeing it, and then we can start the process of nailing down details and implementing reforms.”

Scully also reiterated his belief that operators were still committing breaches too often. He said: “There are, to be blunt, still too many failings happening. Some customers continue to slip through protections and are allowed or even encouraged to spend too much. Some go on to suffer real and serious harm, including taking their own life in extreme cases.”

He appeared to suggest that spending limits would not be on the table. However, he suggested that rather than “affordability checks”, he preferred the term “financial risk” checks, suggesting that some form of mandatory check is still on the cards albeit possibly with a different name.

Scully said: “Let me be really clear here. It is not the role of government to tell people how much of their salary they are ‘allowed to’ spend on gambling.”

He added: “The Commission has already identified key areas of concern, for example particularly vulnerable customers who can be harmed by even quite small losses – perhaps they have been declared bankrupt. Alongside that is high spending binge behaviour with the potential for lasting financial harm and high sustained losses over a longer period of time.

“I also think ‘financial risk’ is a more appropriate term, as a consideration of financial circumstances can only ever reveal that one type of risk – financial.”

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