The British government, or at least certain influential people in and around it, has been said to have taken over the upcoming review of gambling legislation in the country.
The review, due to be launched very soon, comes at a time when there is a clamour for swingeing reform within the sector at least from Boris Johnson and his infamous advisor Dominic Cummings.
Downing Street Figures to Take Over Review
The long-anticipated review is due to get underway around the autumn and had been due to be lead, as expected, by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS). However, it seems now that Boris Johnson and two close advisors are to take control.
It has been revealed in the press that Dominic Cummings and Munira Mirza, director of the 10 Downing Street policy unit, have now taken a closer interest in the push to overhaul the 2005 Gambling Act.
The current legislation was introduced during Tony Blair’s tenure and, at the time, loosened restrictions in the sector. The 2005 Gambling Act, therefore, led to Britain having the most liberalised laws of any major economy in the world.
But, rather unsurprisingly, one could argue for a conservative government hell-bent on standing alone outside the EU and stopping what they see as a large influx of migrants, these Downing Street figures could now be pushing for a review that ultimately scales back large sections of the current ‘liberal’ act.
Some of the reforms in the lew legislation could involve putting a block on some gambling-related advertising.
Those advocating reform within government appear to be concerned that the DCMS is not in a position to facilitate changes, given that they have been branded ‘conflicted’ when it comes to the financial contributions gambling makes to broadcasters and sports teams, which in turn are close to DCMS officials.
While to many Tories seem to be keen on these reforms, especially regarding advertising, some ministers aren’t as convinced about the links between advertising and gambling-related harms.
Speaking in the House of Lords, DCMS minister Lady Barran said, “I cannot be specific on the scope of the review, but the evidence is not clear about the link between advertising and problem gambling, particularly among young people.”
While some MPs are not convinced advertising is the problem, a comparison has been drawn between smoking and gambling, i.e., that some members of the house didn’t want to stop tobacco advertising some years ago, but it happened anyway.
Gambling the Easy Target
Once more, the gambling industry appears to be an easy target and is being given special attention by Johnson and Cummings either to score soft political points or because they simply don’t understand the industry.
While the headline is obvious; advertising gambling operators encourage people to bet, it is never as simple as that, and what’s good for one has to be good for another.
People within the gambling industry will probably accept anti-advertising measures when anything remotely harmful, from caffeine to sugar, loans to credit cards, are also banned from TV and social media.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that Dominic Cummings appears to be either behind this, or at least supportive of it.
No matter how much time has passed, the public hasn’t forgotten Cummings’ transgressions during the lockdown in the summer, and so given Boris Johnson’s bleating about people “not following the rules,” it will be hard for many to accept legislation in the industry written by either him or his main advisor.