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Iain Duncan Smith: government's gambling reforms remain a 'work in progress'

Sir Iain Duncan Smith: government had been 'dragging its feet'
Sir Iain Duncan Smith: government had been 'dragging its feet'

The government's long-awaited gambling white paper is still a "work in progress", according to one of the most prominent campaigners for reform in parliament.

There have been suggestions that prime minister Liz Truss's new administration might scrap plans for gambling reform but former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith told a meeting at the party's conference in Birmingham on Tuesday that there had been little change from the situation under Boris Johnson's regime.

The government launched its review of gambling in December 2020 promising to make regulation "fit for the digital age".

A white paper was expected to cover issues such as affordability checks, stake limits, gambling advertising and a levy to pay for the prevention and treatment of gambling-related harm, but it has been repeatedly delayed.

Duncan Smith told the meeting, organised by the cross-party Social Market Foundation think tank, that it was "not altogether certain where the government is right now", because of the change of prime minister.

He said he had been to Downing Street to push for the white paper's publication and that former gambling minister Chris Philp, now chief secretary to the Treasury, was still keen to move forward with reforms.

Chris Philp: said to still favour gambling reforms
Chris Philp: said to still favour gambling reforms

Duncan Smith added: "There are others who are not so keen on it but they were always there anyway. So you'll get pushback from the Treasury almost certainly. They always throw at you the revenues that they receive. My point therefore is that it's still a bit of a work in progress."

Duncan Smith said he remained optimistic the white paper would be published. However, he added: "It's going to be one of those things where the government will have to balance the time they have for doing it and whether or not they're driven to do it for the right reasons, and that's really a game of persuasion I guess."

Duncan Smith said Johnson's government had been "dragging its feet" over gambling reform and that progress had been further slowed by the changes in government personnel.

"Don't assume for a second this is a retraction," he added. "It's not, it's in exactly the same place as it was before. The problem is that names have all changed and people who therefore knew something about it are no longer in the posts that they were, so that's the problem.

"It's a case of re-education and getting people to understand what they are sitting on and why it's necessary. So that may take a little bit more time. But as I say nobody has come out with an absolute 'no, this should not go through'."


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Bill BarberIndustry editor

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