UK gambling reforms expected to be “watered down”
Reports over the weekend suggest that several widely anticipated restrictions will be left out of proposed new gambling legislation.
UK.- With the wait for the UK government’s delayed gambling white paper dragging on, there’s been plenty of speculation about what legislative changes might be in store for the British gaming industry. But media reports this weekend suggest that some of the biggest shakeups feared by the industry may not make it into draft legislation.
According to The Sunday Times, the government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is planning to “water down” the overhaul of gambling legislation, leaving out some of the more radical proposals. That would include the widely expected ban on gambling sponsorship in sport.
The newspaper also claims the DCMS is planning to leave out a mandatory levy on gambling operators, which bodies such as GambleAware have called for to provide steady funding for problem gambling research, treatment and prevention.
No mandatory levy on gambling operators?
GambleAware had called for a mandatory one per cent levy on post-winning earnings to allow better longer-term planning and commissioning for problem gambling services. It said the tax would raise £140m.
But the Sunday Times believes the government will finally opt to stick with voluntary contributions.
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has spoken out strongly against calls for a mandatory levy.
Amid criticism that its lobbying may have influenced the government, CEO Michael Dugher tweeted: “For the record, we’ve repeatedly met with ministers, officials and advisers across government.
“Government should rightly engage about future changes with an industry that pays £4.5bn in tax and supports 119,000 jobs. Government have also met anti-gambling campaigners and that’s how it should be too.”
A spokesperson for DCMS told The Sunday Times: “We are undertaking the most comprehensive review of gambling laws in 15 years to ensure they are fit for the digital age. We will be publishing a white paper… in the coming weeks.”
Tory MP promises “war” if gambling harm measures are watered down
Anti-gambling campaigners have reacted strongly to the report, with Iain Duncan Smith, vice chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling-Related Harm, saying he would “go to war” with the government if the reports are true.
The ex-Tory leader told the newspaper: “I will go to war with the government on this. The evidence is clear about the damage problem gambling can cause. I will not compromise on the levy.”
Labour MP Carolyn Harris, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group, told the Mirror: “I am more than disappointed. If this is true, they have missed a fantastic opportunity to completely change the gambling environment and to protect those who need our help.”
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