Scully becomes fifth minister to oversee Gambling Act review

| By Daniel O'Boyle
Paul Scully will become the fifth different government minister to oversee the Gambling Act review, after being appointed to the role following Damian Collins’ exit.

Scully replaces Collins as undersecretary for tech and the digital economy within the Department of Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS), after Collins announced he would leave the front benches yesterday (27 October). In this role, he will oversee gambling, and in particular the review of the Gambling Act.

Scully is the fifth different minister to be in charge of the Gambling Act review.

The first, Nigel Huddleston, served from the 2018 until March 2021, when he was replaced by John Whittingdale. During that time period, the government launched the first stage of the review, a consultation on possible changes.

In March of 2021, just before the consultation closed, Huddleston was replaced by Whittingdale, who oversaw much of the initial drafting of the Gambling Act white paper. He was subsequently moved away from this brief in a 2021 cabinet reshuffle, with Chris Philp becoming his replacement.

Philp continued to work on the white paper, which appeared to be imminent this summer, before he resigned in July, part of a wave of resignations of senior government figures. At the time, he said the review was already at the prime minister’s desk.

However, when prime minister Boris Johnson then announced his own resignation, Collins took over the gambling brief, delaying the publication of the white paper.

While Collins remained in place when Liz Truss became prime minister last month, he left the government soon after Rishi Sunak entered Downing Street, leaving Scully to take over the role.

Scully is the MP for Sutton and Cheam in London, having first been elected in 2015. Since 2020, he has served as minister for London and will continue to do so while also taking on his new position in DCMS. He also served as parliamentary undersecretary for small business from 2020 until July 2022.

“I’m excited to get stuck into my new role as minister for tech at DCMS and am delighted to continue the work with so many friends as minister for London,” Scully said. 

Industry reaction

UK industry body the Betting and Gaming Council welcomed Scully’s appointment.

“Congratulations to [Paul Scully] on his new appointment as minister for tech at DCMS with responsibility for betting and gaming,” the body said.

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher, meanwhile, noted the economic impact of the gambling industry while congratulating Scully on his new role.

“On behalf of the 119,000 people whose jobs are supported by our members – from the high street to hospitality, from tourism to world-leading British tech – I’d like to congratulate both Paul Scully MP on his new role and Michelle Donelan MP on her re-appointment as secretary of state for DCMS,” he said. “Our industry generates £4.5bn in taxes for the Treasury and contributes £7.7bn for the economy in gross value added.

“We are ready to work with DCMS to help find carefully targeted, proportionate measures which achieve the right balance. We want to continue to drive big changes and drive higher standards on safer gambling to better protect the most vulnerable, while at the same time ensuring that the 22.5 million punters who enjoy a flutter each month, perfectly safely and responsibly, have the freedom to do so.”

Dugher also thanked Collins for his work in the post.

“I’d also like to pay tribute to Damian Collins MP, the widely respected outgoing minister who was leading on the review, for his willingness to engage with the industry and understand the contribution we make to the economy,” Dugher said.

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