A Shadow Cabinet reshuffle has seen two new additions with responsibility for betting industry oversight, Lucy Powell MP and Alex Davies-Jones MP, who have been welcomed by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC).
Powell currently serves as MP for Manchester Central and will replace Jo Stevens MP as the Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport, whilst Davies-Jones is MP for Pontypridd and will take the responsibilities of Gambling Minister from Alex Sobel MP.
Keir Starmer’s frontbench reshuffle has seen former Shadow DCMS Secretary Stevens take on the new position of Shadow Secretary of State for Wales and Powell and Davies-Jones move on from being Shadow Secretary of State for Housing and a member of the DCMS Select Committee respectively.
Welcoming the new appointees, BGC Chief Executive and former Labour MP Michael Dugher congratulated the two ministers on their appointments, whilst reiterating his long-held argument backing the betting and gambling industry’s economic contribution to the UK, ahead of the publishing of the white paper on the 2005 Gambling Act.
I’d like to congratulate Lucy and Alex on their appointments,” the Chief Executive remarked in a statement this morning. “I know how incredibly talented both of them are and they are taking on big jobs at a really important time, as we await the publication of the Gambling white paper.
“As the standards body representing the regulated betting and gaming industry, the BGC strongly supports the Gambling Review as an opportunity to make more big changes and to further drive higher standards in safer gambling.”
Dugher also maintained that the efforts of BGC members implemented over the past two years – such a whilst-to-whistle advertising ban and the ‘When the Fun Stops, Stop’ and newly launched ‘Take Time to Think’ slogans – are ‘having an impact’, citing UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) data demonstrating that problem gambling rates had fallen from 0.6% to 0.3%
However, he still asserted that ‘one problem gambler is one too many’, and detailed that the BGC intends to cooperate with the new Shadow Cabinet appointees to strike a balance between player protection and gambling harm minimisation with the continued provision of the industry’s services to wider consumers.
Dugher continued: “Our members play a vital role in supporting hard-pressed high streets through modern betting shops, as well as the hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors through casinos and bingo, and our world-leading British tech companies are employing thousands of people in good jobs in online betting and gaming.
“We want to play our part in continuing to support the economy and the public finances, as well as ensuring that our industry can continue to support sport and broadcasting.
“I would like to thank Jo Stevens and Alex Sobel for all their positive engagement with BGC members in the past, in particular for the support they gave the land-based sector that faced such difficult challenges being closed down during the COVID lockdowns”.
Starmer’s frontbench reorganisation with relation to the gambling and sports spaces follows on from similar moves by his Conservative Party government counterparts on the other side of the House of Commons.
Boris Johnson’s reshuffles earlier this year saw Nadine Dorries replace Oliver Dowden as the sitting DCMS Secretary, whilst Chris Philp took over the reigns as Gambling Minister from John Whittindale – who had previously faced criticism from some gambling reform advocates for perceived closeness to the industry.