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DCMS: Gambling reform consultations will be completed ahead of UK election
Andrew explained the more technical aspects of the white paper would be put to consultation to ensure the ministry is “following due process” and to prevent further delays.
Since the proposals are at risk of challenge, he said it is important that the government “get the design of these things absolutely right.”
“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.
According to Andrew, the responsibility for conducting the consultations will be split between the ministry and the Gambling Commission.
The minister said he had “no concerns” about the resources the Commission will be granted in order to effectively do this work.
Andrew also suggested provisions outlined in the white paper will not be the last word on reform. The introduction of the levy was a measure that would show where further work was required.
“We’re going to constantly review all of this,” he said. “The fact that we’re introducing the levy means that we will be able to commission research into areas to see if further work is needed.”
In addition, the department would also take evidence from what is happening in other countries around the globe. This “more targeted approach” would ultimately prove to be more effective, Andrew argued.
Implementation of affordability checks
The precise implementation of affordability checks has long been considered one of the most pressing concerns among operators regarding the review. Bodies such as the BGC have warned that more stringent interpretations could push punters to the black market.
By introducing standardised affordability checks, DCMS aims to ensure a uniform approach across the whole gambling industry, Andrew said. The majority of users would not be subject to these checks. However, for those subject to additional assessment, the process would be conducted in a way “without them almost knowing about it”.
The Gambling Commission will work alongside the Financial Conduct Authority and the Information Commissioners Office to ensure the checks are technically feasible.
In the consultations, affordability checks will be tested through the calculation process to ensure it is as frictionless as possible.
Plans for a statutory levy
Prior to the release of the white paper, there were rumours that the government was intending to impose a 1% tax on a gambling company’s profits to fund research education and treatment (RET), as opposed to the current voluntary model.
While the document did include a levy, DCMS did not commit to any precise number.
Andrew said this measure would be examined during the consultation to pick the precise figure.
“We’ve listened to a lot of the recommendations and suggestions that have come to us from the various groups that we’ve been meeting with,” he said. “Those will formulate our thinking as we develop that further.”
According to the minister, the levy may not be set at a flat rate but in fact be dependent on the risk profile of the particular gambling operator.
“The secondary powers that we have give us the power to create the levy in whatever way we think is right, which is why we’re consulting on it,” said Andrew.
“One of those, for example, is a formula and we’ve said in the white paper that we will take into account kind of the risk elements of the individual operators and the costs that operators have.”