No Certainty When UK White Paper Will Be Published, Says MP

October 5, 2022
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​​​​​​​There is no certainty around when the long-awaited UK Gambling Act white paper will be released or what will be in it, according to MP Iain Duncan Smith.

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There is no certainty around when the long-awaited UK Gambling Act white paper will be released or what will be in it, according to MP Iain Duncan Smith.

The white paper is “still a bit of a work in progress” and the government “may want to look at it again”, Duncan Smith said during a panel hosted by cross-party think-tank the Social Market Foundation at the Conservative Party Conference 2022.

Duncan Smith, who is also vice chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Gambling Related Harm, added that recent changes to personnel in government and other political posts mean that plenty of people in charge of the white paper need to be “educated” on the matter.

The MP is due to have meetings over the next 24 hours that he says will hopefully form a clearer picture of the current situation.

Smith also admitted that Boris Johnson’s government seemed to be “dragging its feet” with the white paper release.

However, he is adamant that the current political situation makes the white paper release “neither more nor less likely”.

“We are in the exact same place as we were aware of before,” Duncan Smith said.

Henrietta Bowden-Jones, founder and director of the NHS National Problem Gambling Clinic, similarly said she has had no update on a possible release date for the white paper.

Bowden-Jones called on lawmakers to ensure that they introduce a white paper “with teeth” as soon as possible, which makes the industry more accountable through “punishments that are adequate and appropriate to ensure it's not worth breaking the rules”.

She also called for the introduction of a raft of player protection measures and advertising restrictions, plus a statutory levy to fund gambling research and public health initiatives.

“Many of the recommendations don't require a change of legislation, they need government officials to understand gambling harms and work with us and the Gambling Commission in their implementation,” Bowden-Jones said.

Fellow panellist Matt Zarb-Cousin, Gamban co-founder and the director of Clean Up Gambling, reiterated the white paper release is “urgent” in order to protect problem gamblers and that it must focus on online gambling as “that is where most of the harm is”.

Zarb-Cousin took issue with bonus inducements, enticing gamblers to play on online slots, gambling operators being based offshore and “excessive marketing”. He also recommended standardising affordability checks and the introduction of a gambling ombudsman.

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