Bored Waiting

What on Earth is Happening with the Gambling Review?

You know when your other half asks you to clear out the shed, and you tell them you’ll do it, but then six months later you haven’t got round to it because there was that leak in the kitchen, then you all got norovirus and had to take time off work which you still haven’t caught up with, and now the boiler has given up the ghost just as it starts getting cold – so the shed just never quite made it to the top of your to do list?

That’s the gambling review right now.

First announced in 2020, it has been through 3 Prime Ministers, 3 Secretaries of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and five ministers who were supposed to be in charge of the review itself.

And it’s still not ready.

Hop on the rollercoaster ride that has been the Gambling review so far, and i’ll give you a tour of what’s happened so far.

What is the Gambling Review?

Gambling Act 2005Just so we are all on the same page, the Gambling Act Review was put in place to bring the outdated 2005 act into the modern age, and it began with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) doing some research.

They asked 45 different questions around 3 core objectives:

  • Establish if changes are needed in relation to new technology, and if so what.
  • To find a balance between consumer freedom and consumer harm (gambling harm).
  • To find more effective ways to ensure consumer safety, especially when it comes to gambling advertising.

I layman’s terms the gambling act is old and needs updating to make it fit for the gambling industry of today, which is much more technologically advanced than it was back in 2005.

The Gambling Review was set in motion in order to do that, checking which laws were still doing the job, which needed scrapping or updating, and whether any new laws needed to be made in order to cope with advances within the industry.

The thing is, if a new technology comes along and doesn’t really fit into any category already covered in the law (VR, crypto, loot boxes etc) , it is essentially operating in the wild west with no regulation, so the laws need to be updated to deal with this.

Gambling Review Timeline

Pins in Calendar

It might be fun to track the journey of the Gambling review so far, so we can see just how ludicrous things have become:

  • 2019 – Gambling review forms part of the Tory party manifesto.
  • December 2020 – Gambling Review announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, to be handled by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
  • 8th December 2020 – Call for evidence opened, to gather information and data on gambling behaviours and issues in the UK.
  • March 2021 – Minister in charge of the Gambling review, Nigel Huddleston replaced by John Whittingdale.
  • 31st March 2021 – Call for evidence ends, 16,000 submissions are received. White paper aims to be published before the end of 2021.
  • 15th September 2021 – Oliver Dowden leaves his post of Secretary of State for DCMS in a cabinet reshuffle by Boris Johnson, replaced by Nadine Dorries.
  • 16th September 2021 – John Whittingdale is removed as minister in charge of gambling review and replaced by Chris Philp.
  • 6th February 2022 – Deadline for white paper pushed back to May 2022.
  • July 2022 – White paper 2 months late but reportedly ready to be published.
  • 7th July 2022 – Chris Philp, the minister in charge of the review resigns, saying the white paper is on Boris Johnson’s desk awaiting final approval.
  • 7th July 2022 – Hours later, and before the white paper is approved, Boris Johnson also resigns.
  • 12th July – Damien Collins becomes minister in charge of the gambling review.
  • July 2022 – White paper delayed due to Conservative Party leadership contest and Parliament’s summer recess.
  • 5th September – Liz Truss wins leadership race to become Prime Minister of the UK. Rumours she will scrap the Gambling review altogether.
  • 6th September 2022 – Nadine Dorries replaced as Secretary of state for DCMS by Michelle Donelan, now the 3rd Secretary of state to be in office during the life of the Gambling review.
  • 21st October – Liz Truss resigns as Prime Minister.
  • 24th October – Rishi Sunak named as new Prime Minister of the UK.
  • 28th October 2022 – Damien Collins steps down as minister in charge of Gambling review.
  • 31st October – Paul Scully named as Damien Collins replacement, making him the 5th minister to take the role.
  • As of today – No one has any blinking idea when the white paper may finally be published…

As you can see, the white paper has mostly been held back due to political turmoil and constant personnel changes at the top.

Every time a new PM enters office they form a new cabinet, which means (potentially) a new Secretary of state for the DCMS, who will then want to appoint their own team.

Throw resignations, cabinet reshuffles, and sackings into the mix, as well as the economic disaster we are currently living through, and you can understand why the white paper hasn’t be signed off yet.

What is in the Gambling Review?

Rules and RegulationsWe won’t know for sure until it has been published, but reports suggest soft checks on anyone depositing £125 or more, and more through affordability checks on anyone losing over £2,000 in a single month.

Other possibilities were also tabled at the time the report was announced.

The debate leading up to the review was mainly those in the betting industry along the the Betting and Gaming Council (BCG) welcoming the review, but urging any changes be evidence led; and anti-gambling campaigners calling for much tougher laws than are sensible.

So the industry is worried they will lose money and the campaigners want the industry shut down, in a nutshell.

Rishi Sunak is unlikely to sign off on anything too extreme though, given that the gambling industry is worth in the region of £7.7 billion to the UK economy – which is currently splattered all over the floor.

He was also vocal on the matter before he became Prime Minister, warning of knee jerk reactions and restrictions going too far on several occasions. Not to mention the fact that Catterick racecourse is in his constituency.