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GC: First white paper consultations due this summer

| By Zak Thomas-Akoo
The Gambling Commission’s deputy chief executive Sarah Gardner said that the first set of Gambling Act Review white paper consultations are to be published this summer.
Affordability Checks tightrope

Gardner added that pre-consultation engagement with stakeholders has already begun in a number of policy areas. While she said she was “not in a position to tell you what those will be yet”, she said that the regulator would be publishing more information on this in the near future.

Many provisions outlined in the white paper – which was published last month – are to be subjected to further consultation by the Commission and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to review how the measures should be implemented.

Sarah Gardner
deputy chief executive of the gambling commission sarah gardner

Gardner made the remarks at the Lotteries Council Annual Conference, where she was the keynote speaker.

Gardner says Commission to prioritise work

The deputy CEO said that the implementation of the white paper “will likely take a number of years to fully complete” but said this did not mean that the Commission could not make rapid progress is some key areas.

As such Gardner emphasised that both the GC and the government need to prioritise their work. She said that where the body were consulting they needed to “get it right”.

Gardner also made clear the Commission wanted to ensure that a wide variety of experiences and expertise informed the way the white paper’s policy commitments were turned into practical reality.

“In my own career in public service both in government and regulation, I have seen too many examples of well-meaning policy changes having unintended consequences for the public due to the way they were implemented in the real world,” she said.

“So take it from me that we will be doing everything we can to avoid making that mistake during implementation. Less haste, more speed.”

Consultations prove controversial

Following the publication of the white paper, the number and breadth of measures that the government saw fit to put to further consultation proved controversial in some quarters.

While some argued that this was done due to a legislative backlog in parliament due to Brexit, Liberal Democrat peer and chair of the Peers for Gambling Reform Group Lord Don Foster told iGB that much could be done without primary legislation.

many of the consultations were criticised in parliament

“For example, there is a clause within the 2005 act that gives the power to the secretary of state to introduce a statutory levy,” Lord Foster said. “And the minister can do it in any way he or she chooses – that’s already there.

“We don’t need primary legislation. So, an excuse that suggests that there isn’t going to be parliamentary time – ‘We’ve got the online safety bill, we’ve got all these other bills going through parliament at the moment’ – simply isn’t there.”

Meanwhile, others voice concerns that the consultations may be delayed until after the 2024 general election, after which the sitting government may no longer have a majority in the House of Commons.

However, parliamentary undersecretary of state for sport, gambling and civil society, Stuart Andrew, confirmed in a press conference that this would not be the case.

“Our intention is that everything will be introduced and in place by the summer of next year, so in time for the next general election,” he said.

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