The long-awaited UK gambling law review white paper has been postponed once again due to ongoing political turmoil. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
British government officials have postponed the White Paper to review the long-awaited gambling law for the fourth time. The delay relates to the ongoing political turmoil within the ruling Conservative Party. Many advocates of reform expressed anger over the recent setback, expressing fears that another delay could claim lives.
The new prime minister won’t take office until September
Advisers to outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson have said it would be best to delay publication of the White Paper until the leader of a new Conservative party can take his place. For now, it appears that the new prime minister will not take office until September at the earliest. The newspaper was initially scheduled to be published next Tuesday.
Johnson’s advisers reportedly argued that any legislation enacted on the back of the White Paper would require the prior approval of his successor. Other reforms of government policies suffered the same fate as the gambling White Paper.
Delay and more delay
In addition to the current political uncertainty, the white paper has also faced delays due to controversies over its contents among MPs. Some MPs believe that advisers with previous links to the gambling sector have pushed for watered-down proposals and even blocked some key aspects, including a mandatory gambling addiction tax and stricter affordability checks.
A revision of the gambling law was first announced in 2019 amid concerns that the legislation from 2005 was not appropriate for the modern era. Extensive hearings and comment phases were held in order to draft the White Paper proposals. The Ministry of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports led the review.
Meanwhile, Jacob Rees-Mogg, a leading Conservative MP, reportedly saw the reform as interference by a “nanny state”. Prior to the prime minister’s resignation, it was assumed that he was trying to obstruct the proceedings by asking for clarification on a number of details.
Supporters are reacting
Commenting on last delay“Tens of thousands of people will be harmed and some will die as a result of this unjustified delay,” a spokesperson for Gambling with Life said.
Meanwhile, Representative Ian Duncan Smith, one of the main drivers of gambling reform, said he was “very sorry” for the recent delay. Labor MP Carolyn Harris similarly called it a “low, pointless, hard blow to reform activists”. She has served as chair of a group of MPs investigating the harms of gambling.