Paul Scully joins DCMS BGC

BGC: DCMS needs to ‘end damaging uncertainty’ and publish White Paper

SBC News BGC: DCMS needs to ‘end damaging uncertainty’ and publish White Paper
Lucy Frazer MP

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has called on Lucy Frazer MP to push ahead with the Gambling Act review White Paper in her new remit as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

Frazer was announced as Secretary on Tuesday by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, as the government undertook a reorganisation of departmental duties which saw the DCMS drop its responsibility for digital and tech oversight.

Michele Donelan, who was first appointed DCMS Secretary on 6 September 2022, will take on the newly created role of Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology (SIT).

As a result of the reshuffle, Frazer becomes the fourth Secretary of State to lead the department overseeing the Gambling Act review, and the White Paper has been held up once again.

Meanwhile, Paul Scully MP – the third Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Tech and the Digital Economy (Gambling Minister) to conduct the review – will also transfer to the new SIT.

Commenting on Frazer’s appointment, BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher said: “On behalf of the 110,000 people whose jobs rely on our members – we would like to warmly welcome Lucy on her new appointment. 

“I know she is someone who is liked and respected across Parliament, and her appointment comes at a critical time for our industry. From high streets to hospitality, from tourism to tech, our members generate £4.2bn in taxes for the Treasury and contribute £7.1bn to the economy in gross value added.

“There are still issues to finalise, but the long awaited package of welcome reforms should be published without delay.”

The Gambling Act review has been underway since December 2020, and has been delayed on multiple occasions, having first been scheduled for publication in Spring 2021.

Successive changes in government, with three PMs leading the UK in one year, meant the review was consistently sidelined, and under Liz Truss rumours were circulating that it could be scrapped altogether. 

Once Rishi Sunak took the helm as PM, he made it clear that the review was back on the agenda, and at the end of 2022 Paul Scully asserted that the White Paper would be published ‘in the coming months’, suggesting a February release date.

Now that Frazer has assumed responsibility for the DCMS, stakeholders continue to await government decisions on issues such as sponsorship, affordability checks, sponsorship and marketing and research, education and training (RET) funding.

“We hope the new Secretary of State will listen to racing and to the millions of punters who are concerned about blanket, intrusive, low level ‘affordability’ checks driving people to the unsafe unregulated black market online,” Dugher concluded.

“We also hope that as a sector supporting jobs and investment in the UK, recovering from the pandemic and facing tough economic headwinds, she will reject calls for any new taxes on the industry.

“We continue to call for big changes so that standards in safer gambling continue to improve, but these changes must be carefully targeted to protect the small minority who are at risk or vulnerable, and not interfere with the overwhelming majority who enjoy betting safely and responsibly.

“We have already called for an ombudsman to improve consumer redress and have engaged extensively with previous ministers. It’s time now for the Government to end the damaging uncertainty and get on with publishing the white paper as soon as possible.”

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