Anger Over Delay to Gambling Review White Paper

It appears that the promised government overhaul of UK gambling legislation has been delayed. It had been expected that some announcement would be made towards the end of 2021. Now it seems that long-awaited announcement won’t happen until Spring of 2022. Those campaigning against gambling are not at all impressed.

The 2019 General Election campaign include a pledge by the Conservatives to review the 2005 Gambling Act. Two years on, there’s been a lot of gathering of information but little action. The previous Gambling Act had made several changes to the law. The years that have followed have seen a rise in the number of people with gambling problems.

That has led several organisations and politicians calling for changes to be made. There’s been a long wait for legislation and initially there was a plan for a white paper being published at the end of 2020. That never materialized after a year in which politicians had plenty of other matters on their mind. Now comes the news that 2021 isn’t going to see anything published either.

One decision that will take place early in 2022 is regarding the National Lottery. The next 10-year license is up for tender and that’s another decision the pandemic has had a hand in delaying. The decision on who the license will be granted to is due to be announced in February 2022.

The news of the delay has been criticized by Liz Ritchie, the co-founder of the charity Gambling With Lives. That was formed alongside her husband Charles after their son Jack committed suicide. He had become addicted to gambling while still at school. The charity has stressed that research shows there are strong links between gambling and suicide.

Speaking about the delay, she commented: “Every day at least one person takes their life because of gambling. Every delay means more families shattered. When will the government act?” The charity has called for a regulatory investigation to take place into all cases of suicide have seen gambling as a contributing factor.

Also upset at the delay is the Labour MP, Carolyn Harris, who is chair of the cross-party group that looks at gambling-regulated harm. She says that the review process has “gone on for long enough.” The MP added: “The government made a commitment to reform our gambling laws in 2019. Two years later they are still deliberating while the online industry is weakly regulated, reaps vast profits and people continue to be harmed.”

Earlier this year Chris Philip MP took over as the minister in charge of the review. He replaced John Whittingdale who many felt was a bit too friendly towards the gambling industry. Philip recently said that the white paper on the gambling review would be published “in the coming months.” When that does finally happen, it is looking as if there will be strong action recommended. This may include tougher affordability checks.