White Paper Consultation: DCMS Asks Three Questions

White Paper Consultation: DCMS Asks Three Questions

We’ve not heard much from the Department for Digital, Culture, Music and Sports (DCMS) select committee on gambling regulation since the unveiling of the White Paper at the end of April. However, it’s now being reported that the department has issued a call for evidence on the process of the White Paper, asking stakeholders three key questions. Responses must be received by July 14th, expecting the results to assist the UKGC in developing achievable and sustainable regulations.

The big three

The Gambling White Paper lays out new gambling regulations in the UK. It is part of the UK’s gambling reform, which was first announced in 2020 and aimed to update UK gambling laws for the current state of play, where consumers can access gambling 24/7 in a few seconds.

The gambling reform is a recognition that the current 2005 gambling laws in the UK, which are considered some of the most liberal in Europe, are no longer fit for purpose, creating a scenario where gambling harms have affected thousands of UK players.

The call for evidence asks stakeholders three questions:

  1. What White Paper proposal do you most agree with?
  2. Are there any significant gaps in the upcoming reform?
  3. Can the UKGC deliver on the White Paper aims by mid-2024?

The consultation gives stakeholders a chance to air how they view the White Paper so far and recognise the public participation angle and the value this can add. The results will allow DCMS and the UKGC to leverage industry expertise and opinion better to form well-rounded, successful policies and realistic implementation expectations.

Race for regulatory progress pre-election

The additional call for evidence hasn’t come complaint-free as it means another extension to the timeline for implementation of the White Paper’s recommendations, and it is in the context of an upcoming UK general election set for May 2023. The concern is that the election results could stall the progression of the UK’s gambling reform, depending on the political views and will of the government in power.

White Paper responses

Further consultation is wise given the controversial nature of gambling reforms and the White Paper. But for those vying for speedy implementation and new gambling reforms that better protect players, the White Paper implementation cannot come fast enough, and many have criticised the continuing delays. However, the reality is that implementing new gambling laws and reforms is a lengthy process that it’s better to get right from the start rather than tweak later when issues are reflected in data.

For the main part, charity organisations and families of those who have experienced gambling harms have powerfully advocated for legal updates. While the industry widely supports the reform, it has argued for evidence-driven protocols, citing European cases where strict reforms are correlated with the growth of black market gambling and cautioning the same could be true for the UK. Bacta, which represents the gaming machine industry in the UK, is due to give evidence on the effect of the White Paper on the land-based sector on July 11th.

While concern among the industry hasn’t reduced the rhetorical stance of regulators and politicians for updated regulations, some have argued that the White Paper’s final contents were less impactful than the initial plans.

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