Anticipation is building up ahead of a government review of the Gambling Act of 2005 in the United Kingdom. This is going to be the first major overhaul of the law that binds and regulates all gambling in the country.
Gambling Act Reviews Deferred as Political Uncertainty Looms
Various proposals have been pitched so far, from scrapping the UK Gambling Commission and establishing a new, more “adequate” regulator, to watering down the watchdog’s privileges, to restricting bonuses and advertising.
The debate has been ongoing with varying intensity over a year, but now, progress seems to have hit a new pothole. The Guardian has reported that the deliberated changes may not be revealed until at least May.
Carried out by the department for digital, culture, media, and sport (DCMS), the whitepaper was supposed to be published in 2021. However, further delays ensued due to political upheavals in the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
One of the biggest issues discussed is the rate of gambling addiction in the country, with anti-gambling campaigners asking for stricter measures on the industry’s accessibility. One such idea is to mold the British gambling industry in a Nordic image.
Johnson’s own political teetering may throw another spanner in the works, cautions Carolyn Harris, a staunch supporter of the review. Harris has not shied away from using tough language on the delays, urging lawmakers to act sooner rather than later as each month of delay meant more gambling harm to consumers while “the industry rakes in profits.” The Guardian cited Liz Richie, whose son, Jack, committed suicide after becoming addicted to gambling:
“Someone takes their life every day in the UK because of gambling, so we simply cannot wait until May to see this white paper.”Gambling With Lives co-founer Liz Richie
Meanwhile, the regulator has also come under fire from both camps. One has accused the UK Gambling Commission of being too tough on the industry. The other has argued that the watchdog lacks adequate funding to make it an efficient tool in enforcing industry mandates.
A Nordic Model Is Best for Consumers
As lobbying from left and right continues, the whitepaper is hoping to bring clarity that would allow all parties to be satisfied, an unlikely scenario. Reviewers have repeatedly said that they would prioritize consumer safety first.
Based on years of reporting in the industry, the UK could need to shift towards a Nordic model plain and simple, which would lead to a significant reassessment of how to best conduct operations in the country for the bulk of companies. There have been reports about some MPs being too cozy with gambling and actually accepting various perks from gambling companies.
Meanwhile, a non-for-profit charity committed to fighting gambling addiction in the UK, GambleAware, announced that it would seek to cut ties with gambling industry companies as a source of its funding, solving a problem it has been long criticized for.