UK Minister of State Scully: White Paper Gaming Reform Due Soon

The long-awaited white paper on the revision of the UK Gambling Act could be published within weeks. This has been announced by Paul Scully, who claims that the white paper is in the phase of being finalised. The minister stated this earlier this week in a speech at the Betting and Gaming Council. Many online casinos that operate globally hold a British licence by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). 

The British Minister Paul Scully, responsible for (online) gambling in the UK, has announced in a speech that the long-awaited white paper will most likely be published in the coming weeks which would suggest the paper to be available in February. The current British gambling law comes from 2005 and has not been updated to the current market situation in which online gambling has become increasingly popular and even dominant.

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Delay After Delay

In the United Kingdom, people have been waiting for a long time for the white paper that contains the intended changes that the government wants to implement in the Gambling Act. Scully’s predecessor, Nigel Huddleston, first said in July 2022 that the white paper would be ready within weeks. This was delayed due to the resignation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson. A month later, controversy arose when Damian Collins, the then Minister of Technology and the Digital Economy, opened a consultation to amend parts of the UK’s gambling law. Under Johnson’s successor, Liz Truss, amending the Gambling Act was not a top priority whilst the death of Queen Elizabeth II also took away the attention. The completion and publication of the white paper was delayed even more due to Truss’s resignation. Facing criticism and a significant loss of confidence in her leadership, Truss publicly announced her resignation as leader of the Conservative Party. This happened on her 45th day in office, leading to the former prime minister being the subject of ridicule.

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Final Changes

Under the new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss’ successor, the gambling reform is expected to be concluded. Sunak assumed office on 25 October 2022 and announced to fix the “catastrophe of gambling”. In his speech, Paul Scully said some final changes still need to be made. In addition, consultations will follow with the British gambling industry, the Gambling Commission, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Scully is head of the DCMS herself.  If the prime minister does not agree with the proposed changes, he can act accordingly. The changes included in the white paper will not be final, Scully stressed to the gambling companies that he wants to be clear that the “white paper is not a final version and that no rights can be claimed from this draft.”

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Terminology

As an example for the above, Scully mentioned the so-called affordability checks talked about in earlier versions. According to him, this is not the right term and he prefers to switch to the term ‘financial risk controls’. Scully also states that he does not want to focus solely on financial indicators when monitoring problematic gambling behaviour:

“I don’t think we would provide consumers with better protection by moving to a black and white world that only looks at financial indicators. It is essential that operators use all information about customers and their broader risk profile to take the right measures.”

Paul Scully

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Finally, Scully addressed the current state of affairs at various gambling companies in the United Kingdom. The minister stated that there are still many shortcomings in the field of responsible gaming:

“Some customers continue to slip through the security check and may be encouraged to overspend.”

Paul Scully

Scully does add a positive note to recent developments and says to be “pleased with the steps the gambling industry has already taken”. The revision of the gambling law is, according to the minister, a “historic opportunity” to find a balance between a thriving gambling industry and the right protection of players. The publication date of the white paper has not yet been announced.

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