Government maintains Gambling Act white paper still due in “coming weeks”

| By Robert Fletcher
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has confirmed it will publish the long-awaited white paper into the Gambling Act 2005 within the “coming weeks”, despite ongoing uncertainty surrounding the British government.

Parliamentary Undersecretary of State at the DCMS Nigel Huddleston announced the news during a debate in the House of Commons last week, saying that the white paper on both the conclusions of the Gambling Act review and the DCMS’s vision forth sector “remains a priority”.

Last month, British industry body Gambling Business Group (GBG) said publication of the white paper appeared to be imminent after the DCMS launched a ‘write round’ pre-publication stage, during which the document is sent to all government departments for review.

However, concerns were raised last week as to how the impact of the resignation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as well as a large number of Ministers such as Chris Philp who had taken the lead on the review, would impact the white paper’s publication.

Huddleston said during the debate on 7 July that the white paper would be published in the coming weeks, suggesting it could be available before the end of the month. Huddleston in March said the white paper was being “finalised”.

“It remains a priority for the Department, and we will publish a white paper setting out conclusions and a vision for the sector in the coming weeks,” Huddleston said in response to questions from Labour MP Gerald Jones and Scottish National Party MP Owen Thompson.

“I know that both Members have taken an active involvement in this issue and, like all the House, are looking forward to seeing the outcomes of our Gambling Act 2005 review.”

Huddleston faced a number of other gambling-related questions at the debate, including a query from Thompson about loot boxes in video games. Huddleston said this issue was being looked at separately from the review and work is ongoing to introduce laws to offer greater protection to children playing games that feature loot boxes.

Conservative MP Justin Tomlinson raised the issue of fixed-odds betting terminals, asking whether it would be a “pragmatic and sensible consideration” to display the average return rate for five seconds at the beginning of play, so that users can make an informed decision.

Huddleston said the white paper would look at these issues and the Gambling Commission considers these points on an ongoing basis. 

Labour MP Carolyn Harris raised concerns over policy advisers at Downing Street and their alleged links with gambling businesses, with Huddleston stating that the DCMS “engaged extensively” with stakeholders in the course of the review.

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