The political turmoil in the UK is causing problems in virtually every economic sector, including gambling. Only days after stating that it would still move forward with the publication of its gambling white paper, the government is officially putting its plans on hold.
The white paper, which will detail the next era in gambling in the UK, has been in development for years. Initially, the UK expected to deliver it last year, but ran into one delay after another for different reasons.
The announced resignation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson amid a mass exodus of ministers is leaving a trail of chaos in its path. Unfortunately, it has proven to be too much for those leading the gambling reform.
Stop and Go
This is the fourth time the government has decided to delay the release of the white paper. There have been various reasons for each, including the battle for control over the National Lottery.
The Guardian reports that the government determined that it would be impossible to move forward with the publication of the white paper until a new prime minister arrives. This disrupted the possibility that the document make its debut this past Tuesday. Without a figurehead at the top to sign off on the new rules and regulations, there’s no way to release it.
The gambling reforms have been in the works since 2019. However, because of the reason the government gave for the latest delay, it’s possible the white paper won’t arrive until at least September. That’s when the elections to choose a Johnson successor will be held.
There are still only rumors and conjecture over what the gambling reforms will include. In addition, The Guardian indicated that, according to MP Iain Duncan Smith, the UK Treasury is opposing some of the reforms, which may be part of the reason for the delay.
Most insiders aren’t surprised that the government wants more time. Leading the reform is the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Until recently, Chris Philp managed the task for the government agency. However, he resigned, as well. Damian Collins is now in his place, but has to get up to speed on what’s going on.
Relief for Insiders
Some industry insiders and politicians recognized that publishing the white paper now would be counterproductive. MP Jack Brereton is one of these.
Leading up to the possibility that the white paper would arrive, he wrote an op-ed about the situation. Brereton stated that releasing it now would “be a mistake” because of the magnitude of the reforms.
It’s very easy to hold lazy stereotypes about the regulated betting and gaming industry. But as a Stoke-on-Trent MP, I am fortunate to see first-hand the contribution this sector is making right now as a leisure industry that is part of the cultural fabric of this country,” said MP Jack Brereton.
As numerous studies have already pointed out, problem gambling in the UK is not really a problem at all. Brereton reaffirmed in his article that the problem gambling rate is among “the lowest in Europe” and continues to decline.
This is without sweeping, industry-altering, government-led changes. Instead, it’s a result of gaming operators taking proactive initiatives to implement responsible gambling programs.
As a result, the delay is good news for the gaming industry, at least for now. However, what happens after September may paint a completely different picture.
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