With the door to the DCMS revolving more than ever in recent months and a National Lottery decision crowding up the agenda, the much anticipated review of the Gambling Act is almost certainly heading for a delay as further reports signal a push back until Spring.
Two weeks ago, Coinslot reported on the likelihood that the long awaited Gambling Review will be delayed to Spring – with legislation expected to lag behind due to political shift-shaping around a possible general election. That analysis has gathered further momentum this week with The Guardian newspaper reporting that it too understands that government proposals to overhaul gambling legislation have been delayed until spring.
Not a great friend of the Conservative party, indeed it’s vehemently hostile to the Johnson government, the paper tracked the promise of the Tories which began with a pledge to review gambling laws in its 2019 general election manifesto and a white paper was initially expected before the end of last year. That was then bumped into 2021 with The Guardian no hearing reports that a second delay is now almost inevitable.
Why? Well, the paper notes the government is now unlikely to publish its proposals until after choosing who will win the next 10-year licence to run the National Lottery, a decision due in February 2022.
The delay, it reports, is also partly down to a ministerial reshuffle that involved John Whittingdale, who was widely seen as having a balanced view of the gambling industry, making way for Chris Philp, who talked tough at the recent GambleAware conference, outlining the need for affordability checks, a single customer view, and increased powers for the .
Speaking at the event last week, Philp said the white paper would be published “in the coming months”. However, irony of ironies, the key factor causing the anticipated delay is the mess the Gambling Commission has made in managing the tender process for the National Lottery licence; errors the regulator made forcing the government to extend the assessment of tenders by a further six months.
Once that is finally out of the way, the Commission will feature in another starring role with the gambling white paper following quickly after that.
However, Labour MP Carolyn Harris, who chairs the cross-party group examining gambling-related harm, said the wait had “gone on for long enough”.
“The government made a commitment to reform our gambling laws in 2019,” she commented. “Two years later they are still deliberating while the online industry is weakly regulated, reaps vast profits and people continue to be harmed.”