UK Authorities Are Under Scrutiny After the Gambling Act Review Delay

The Guardian reports that proposals on changing the gambling legislation of the UK have been delayed by the British government until spring 2022. Campaigners issued a warning by saying the delay could lead to more suffering, echoing the same concerns that were voiced when the debate about reducing FOBTs limits raged a few years ago.

The Reviews Were Originally Demanded in 2019 

As a response to concerns issued by politicians, the Conservative party pledged for gambling laws to be reviewed back in 2019. Civil society groups and campaigners also joined the movement, and since the scenario is likely to start occurring, politicians have been receiving a lot of donations from gambling companies to vote in their favor. Gambling in the UK is an $18.5 billion (£14 billion) industry, and as sources tell Guardian, this delay is now inevitable. 

The hold-up is likely because the government hasn’t decided who will receive the 10-year license on its National Lottery, which is why it is likely for the review of the Gambling Act 2005 to start after the first issue is resolved. The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is regulating both the lottery and wider gambling market is due to announce its decision on who will win the license in February. 

So far, Camelot has been holding a monopoly on the market as it has been running the lottery since 1994. However, that may change now since Camelot is facing a lot of competition. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) declined to comment on whether the lottery decision is holding up the gambling industry. 

Delays are Unacceptable, According to Experts 

Liz and Charles Ritchie are co-founders of Gambling With Lives, and they spoke on the issue at hand. Liz alluded to research in which ties between suicide and gambling were connected. She said that gambling is responsible for at least one suicide daily. That is why she urges authorities to launch investigations in every case where gambling is the main reason for suicide. 

Moreover, Richie called for action because she thinks that with each delay, more families are being shattered. It is worth noting that Liz and Charles’ son, Jack, became addicted to gambling while in high school and later took his own life. 

Carolyn Harris, Labor MP, is also tired of the delay and said that the process had taken way too long. Harris, who is the chair of a cross-party group that examines harms related to gambling, stated that even though the government committed to making changes to the Gambling Act in 2019, it manages to reap massive profits, while people are constantly being hurt due to the fact that the online gambling industry is weakly regulated. 

One additional reason why there are still delays may be related to the recent ministerial changes. John Whittingdale was part of those changes as he was replaced by Chris Philip. During an event last week, Philip stated that a white paper is coming in the next month. Just a reminder, the original plan was for a white paper to be released in 2020, but it was later bumped to 2021. Philip also stated that he’s thinking of a massive crackdown to prevent vulnerable people from falling into the deep pit of gambling. 

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