The All Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm (GRH APPG) has initiated a review and inquiry into the outcomes of the Gambling Act review White Paper.
Published in April, the White Paper laid out several recommendations for reform of the British betting and gaming sector. This included implementation of a research, education and treatment (RET) levy, finance risk checks, greater powers for the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and an age requirement of 18 for society lotteries.
The APPG review commences on 14 July with three main focal points. The first objective is to assess and analyse the measures and recommendations of the White Paper as the DCMS moves ahead with another consultation phase.
Carolyn Harris MP, Chair of the APPG, said: “Whilst we entirely welcome many of the proposals set out in the White Paper, and are pleased the Government has listened to our calls for reform, there is clearly more work to be done.
“The APPG will now seek to inform the Government with further evidence and analysis during the important consultation phase, and ensure that measures and commitments made, that will help save lives, are implemented as a priority.”
Having been in the political pipeline for two years – four if the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto pledge is considered – the White Paper looked set to provide conclusions to UK betting and RET stakeholders on the future of the sector’s regulatory landscape.
However, the White Paper outlined that further consultations are due to take place, with UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) CEO Andrew Rhodes, explaining at the CasinoBeats Summit that the regulator’s own consultation is due for conclusion in mid-July.
As DCMS moves ahead with various consultations, the APPG has pledged to ‘hold the government to account’ and ensure that reforms are moved forward ‘as quickly as possible’.
It is not clear when the government hopes for the White Paper’s recommendations to be factored into law, but with a general election due next year, it can be assumed that policymakers will want to move ahead with reforms before then.
Regarding the White Paper’s proposals, the APPG aims to ensure that commitments for legislation ‘when parliamentary time allows’ are treated as a priority.
Of particular significance for MPs of the APPG is the aforementioned addition of more enforcement powers to the Commission. This is one of several proposals welcomed by the APPG, including finance risk checks and UKGC commitment to consult on data sharing.
Other areas welcomed by the group include stake limits for slots, a consultation on player deposit limits, limitation of free bets and bonuses, an independent ombudsman and greater protections for young people, such as the prevention of the use of Category D slot machines.
However, the APPG is not satisfied with the full scope of the review. The group stated: “We were also disappointed to see the relatively weak proposals set out on restrictions to gambling advertising including for White Label and Affiliate products. Much more must be done on advertising to protect children and young people.”
Based on its concerns, the APPG’s review of the White Paper will examine areas of potential harm not included within the legislative overhaul’s remit, such as the National Lottery and ‘the emergence of new forms of gambling’.