An inquiry is set to be launched into the UK government’s approach to the regulation of gambling, conducted by a cross-party DCMS Select Committee.
The Committee will examine how much progress has been made to address previously-raised issues in Parliament, such as the importance of protecting children from gambling-related harms and tackling problem gambling.
Additionally, the group will study the relationship between betting, sports and broadcasting, and how regulation can keep up with innovations in online gambling.
Touching on the criticism levelled at the DCMS Department and the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) for their approach on key issues, the committee named the Public Accounts Committee, National Audit Office and a House of Lords Committee as groups that have raised their concerns.
The panel noted the review of the 2005 Gambling Act ‘concluded last year’ and that a White Paper on reforms is ‘expected to be published shortly’, as also referenced by the newly-appointed Gambling Minister Paul Scully earlier this month.
DCMS Committee member Jude Elliott MP, of the Labour Party, said: “Gambling acts as an enjoyable pastime for large numbers of players, but regulation is struggling to keep pace with the rapidly changing way in which it happens today. This puts people at risk of the devastating harm it can sometimes cause to lives.
“The DCMS Committee’s inquiry will look at the scale of gambling-related harm in the UK, what the government should do about it and how a regulatory regime can best adapt to new forms of online gambling, based both in and outside the UK.”
In support of its inquiry, the DCMS Committee has called for evidence, with a deadline of Feb 10 – meaning submissions could occur after the White Paper publication – revolving around five areas.
These are; the scale of UK gambling-related harm, the key priorities of the White Paper, how broad the term ‘gambling’ should be, whether it is possible for regulators to stay abreast of innovation in the online sphere, and what additional problems arise when operators are based outside the UK.
Responding to the inquiry, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), which represents 90% of regulated UK operators, and its Chief Executive, Michael Dugher, welcomed news of the DCMS Select Committee’s inquiry.
Dugher said: “As the standards body for much of the regulated industry, we strongly welcome this inquiry announced today as a further opportunity for the regulated sector to show our continued commitment to raising standards in safer gambling.
“I am sure that the committee’s inquiry, like the government’s gambling review, will be genuinely ‘evidence-led’ and has to strike a careful balance in making recommendations that are about protecting the vulnerable, whilst not unfairly impacting on the millions of customers who bet perfectly safely and responsibly.”