Another sitting MP has weighed in on the discussion around the Gambling Act review White Paper and its implementation, as Jo Gideon voiced her views on the ongoing consultations.
The MP for Stoke Central – Stoke-on-Trent being a hub for the UK gaming as the home of bet365 – noted in an op-ed for the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) that indecisiveness in the aftermath of the White Paper has caused ‘uncertainty for customers and businesses’.
On this note, the Conservative MPs comments echo those made by Ygam CEO Dr Jane Rigbye at the party’s recent conference. Dr Rigbye asserted that there is significant uncertainty for the research, education and treatment (RET) charity sector with consultations still ongoing.
As it stands, eight consultations are either underway or are planned, focusing on the White Paper’s recommendations. The current set, which is due to end on 18 October, revolves around financial risk checks, game design, customer choice on marketing and strengthening age verification in venues.
The following round of consultations, taking place over the winter, will focus on other areas such as the RET levy. Gideon underscored that due to the economic impact regulatory changes could have, it is ‘vital we get those right if we are to protect jobs and investment’.
“The regulator has a key role in this,” the MP continued. “The Gambling Commission must ensure their consultations and the final proposals that emerge from them are in keeping with the political direction this government has set.
“That is particularly true on the thorny issue of affordability checks. When these were proposed as part of the white paper, we were told they would be frictionless and occur without customers being aware.
“That must be the case, or it risks driving punters from the regulated sector toward unregulated, unsafe operators on the black market.”
The MP also reflected on the betting industry’s impact in Stoke, describing the activities of bet365 as key to the government’s ‘Levelling Up’ agenda, which seeks to bolster the economies and industries of the UK’s provincial areas.
The White Paper is ‘balanced, proportionate, and made crucial decisions in line with the evidence’, she remarked, and has introduced necessary measures such as a new ombudsman, spending checks and land-based casino modernisation plans.
However, with Britain set to go to the polls in its next general election no later than January 2025 – leaving the government at most just over a year to implement the White Paper before potentially being replaced – the consultations must be processed to provide clarity.