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Damian Collins steps down as gambling minister after three months in the role

The prospect of further delays to the gambling review has heightened after Damian Collins announced he will no longer serve as gambling minister, three months after taking the role.

Paul Scully, MP for Sutton and Cheam, is the new minister for tech and the digital economy, and will be responsible for betting and gaming within the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Collins was appointed in the final days of the Boris Johnson regime and his responsibilities included overseeing the Online Safety Bill and publication of the long-delayed white paper into the review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

Damian Collins: 'It has been a real pleasure to work with the team at DCMS'
Damian Collins: 'It has been a real pleasure to work with the team at DCMS'Credit: Richard Townshend/Parliament.UK

Collins retained these roles under Liz Truss, who served as prime minister between September 5 and October 24, and he had appeared set to remain in the post under prime minister Rishi Sunak. After a cabinet reshuffle, Sunak retained Michelle Donelan as culture secretary.

"It has been a real pleasure to work with the team at DCMS to take forward the Online Safety Bill and other measures to strengthen our digital economy," Collins wrote on social media. "I will now continue to support these efforts in parliament from the backbenches."

Repeated delays to the publication of a white paper into the review of the 2005 Gambling Act have left the racing and betting industries, as well as punters, in the dark about what restrictions may be included.

This has led to fresh calls for the UK government to accelerate the publication of the white paper, which Donelan said was among the "priorities" following the appointment of Sunak. Culture secretaries Oliver Dowden and Nadine Dorries also had input on the white paper.

In the absence of any government announcement, the Gambling Commission, which oversees the betting industry, has been increasingly assertive in its dealing with bookmakers, leading to affordability checks being introduced on some customers. These require sensitive personal information to be handed over to allow customers to continue betting.

The passage of the Online Safety Bill through parliament is believed to be the main focus for the DCMS, although the proposed legislation has been removed from next week's House of Commons schedule.

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Jonathan HardingReporter
Published on 28 October 2022Last updated 13:31, 28 October 2022