The UK gambling white paper has been delayed until a new Prime Minister takes office, British newspapers say, and a new UK leader is not expected until September.
Number 10 Downing Street has decided that it would be inappropriate to bind the next Prime Minister to legal reforms ahead of them taking office, according to journalists for two separate publications, the Daily Mail and the Guardian.
The long-delayed announcement had originally been scheduled for next Tuesday (July 19), but advisors said the white paper would need some primary legislation and therefore should wait, according to the Guardian.
The move was greeted with chagrin by supporters of regulatory reform.
“There was an opportunity to get this done long before this leadership election,” said former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, who belongs to an all-party parliamentary group on gambling-related harm.
“It’s not cancelled, just postponed — so it will be for the new leader. I’m not going away, I will keep fighting for reform,” he said.
“Tens of thousands more people will be harmed and many will die due to this inexcusable delay,” said pressure group Gambling With Lives.
Industry-funded charity GambleAware has called for the quick release of the paper, saying it needed to address the “urgent public health issue”.
But Jack Brereton, Conservative member for Stoke-on-Trent, urged a delay.
“To rush this now would be a mistake,” he said. “There are very significant legislative changes and a large number of new policy proposals to betting and gaming which should give ministers pause for thought.”
Stoke-on-Trent is home to the headquarters of bet365 and the paid post was sponsored by industry lobby group the Betting and Gaming Council.
A Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) spokesperson confirmed that Damian Collins has now been handed responsibility for gambling issues, but he would not confirm whether the white paper has been delayed.
"We are undertaking the most comprehensive review of gambling laws in 15 years to ensure they are fit for the digital age,” they told VIXIO GamblingCompliance.
“As we have said all along, we will be publishing a white paper as part of a review of gambling legislation and are planning to do so as soon as possible."
Collins was appointed undersecretary of state for online safety last Friday (July 8) after his predecessor Chris Philp was among 50 members of the Conservative party who resigned governmental positions in an effort to force Prime Minister Boris Johnson to step down.
According to the Earnings+More newsletter, the latest draft of the paper includes proposals for “passive” affordability checks, “smart” stake limits and a ban on targeting bonuses based on spending.
Conservative members of parliament are currently whittling down a list of leader candidates to two, who will be presented for a vote to party members with announcement of a winner scheduled for September 5.