Gambling review

Much-anticipated gambling review white paper looks set for further parliamentary delay

The gambling review white paper has yet to be published
The gambling review white paper has yet to be published

The government's long-awaited gambling review white paper looks set to be subject to another delay, with time running out for it to be published before parliament goes into the Easter recess on March 30.

Details of ministers' plans for gambling reform, including around the controversial subject of affordability checks, have been the subject of repeated delays since the review was launched in December 2020 and may not be published until the second half of April at the earliest. The latest hold-up was caused by prime minister Rishi Sunak's mini-reshuffle in February when culture secretary Michelle Donelan and gambling minister Paul Scully were succeeded by Lucy Frazer and Stuart Andrew respectively.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) had hoped to publish the white paper by the end of this month but it is believed the 'write-round' process, in which other government departments are informed of policy and are able to give feedback, has yet to begin. 

Parliament is due to return from the Easter recess on April 17, although the political timetable provides another potential delay due to the period of pre-election sensitivity also known as 'purdah' before the local elections in England on May 4, during which time policy announcements are not traditionally supposed to be made.

With a further short recess due to start on May 3 for the coronation, the white paper may not be published until after parliament returns on May 9. However, it is understood that an April publication is still possible as some believe the pre-election restrictions may not apply to the announcement of the white paper.

Senior figures in the British racing industry have voiced concern about the effect on the sport's finances of affordability checks, under which punters are asked to provide financial details such as bank statements in order to prove they can afford their level of spend. The checks already taking place are estimated to have cost the sport tens of millions of pounds in revenue.

Writing on the Conservative Home website recently, MP Caroline Nokes said politicians needed to "listen carefully to the concerns being raised by racing", about which she said a number of constituents had contacted her.

Nokes added: "Their concern is the threat of so-called affordability checks which request personal financial details such as bank statements or payslips in order to place a bet. I am very clear that parliament and good regulation must protect the vulnerable and absolutely support that. But I equally want to see the vast majority who bet safely and happily to continue to be able to do so without such intrusion."

Among the other issues likely to figure in the white paper are gambling advertising and sports sponsorship, a statutory levy on gambling operators to pay for the treatment of problem gambling, and lower stakes for online slot games to match those found in land-based gambling.

Read more . . .

Culture secretary says long-awaited white paper due 'shortly' as she reaffirms government support for racing  

Call for new gambling minister to listen to concerns over affordability checks  

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Bill BarberIndustry editor

Published on 21 March 2023inGambling review

Last updated 18:01, 21 March 2023