IMGL Magazine April 2022

UK Gambling Review

Farce or tragedy? Gambling reform has turned into a saga with uncertain outcomes

The Great British Gambling Review: A Drama in Five Acts Dan Waugh reviews the outworking of draft gambling reform legislation and predicts a discouraging future for the UK gambling sector unless the industry changes the script.

I n Great Britain, the date that the Government’s White Paper on legislative reform will be published dominates regulatory and political discourse on gambling. Originally scheduled for the summer of 2021, it has been kicked down the road (to May this year, if lobbyist scuttlebutt is to be believed) through a combination of larger event distractions and ministerial reshufflings. The focus on the White Paper is natural but threatens to eclipse the view of a much longer and far more concerning programme of change for the gambling consumer and the gambling industry both in Great Britain and in other jurisdictions. In this article, we contend that stakeholders should be focused on five distinct phases of reform and argue that, unless the industry adopts a much more disciplined approach to evidence collection, these successive acts are likely to become ever darker. Act I – The White Paper The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (‘DCMS’)

White Paper on reform of the Gambling Act will set out in detail the Government’s thinking on legislative change. The paper seems likely to encompass stake limits for online slots games, affordability checks, marketing restrictions (with focus likely shifting to online media), sustainable funding for treatment and research of gambling disorder, more effective market regulation (including consumer redress) and modernisation for land-based operators. While the Government has indicated that work is well- advanced on the White Paper, the finer details may yet be influenced by events and newsflow. The GambleAware Patterns of Play final report – possibly the most thorough examination of online gambling behaviours ever conducted – is expected to be published this month. It is likely to include, amongst other things, information on the distribution of customer spending and the effectiveness of safer gambling measures. We will also see the Government’s response to the Prevention of Future Deaths ruling in the case of the suicide of Jack Ritchie (the DCMS, the Department for Health and

IMGL Magazine • April 2022 • 31

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