UK Lawmaker Concerned With White Paper Implementation Timeline

July 19, 2023
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A UK lawmaker has raised concerns about the Gambling Commission's ability to implement all the white paper’s proposals in a timely manner.

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A UK lawmaker has raised concerns about the Gambling Commission's ability to implement all the white paper’s proposals in a timely manner.

Lord Foster of Bath, the chair of Peers for Gambling Reform, noted that the regulator's funding review will not take place until next year so “they won't necessarily have as many staff as they need to do this work”.

“I am shocked, given the extensive consultation and review that there's already been, that so many of the proposals are subject to yet more extensive consultation,” he said during the Westminster Media Forum on the next steps for gambling policy and regulation in the UK on Tuesday (July 18).

Charles Leach, associate director at KPMG, similarly believes that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) seems to “be a little behind the ball” when it comes to the consultations it will be in charge of, adding that some seem to have “slipped to Autumn and beyond”.

“There's got to be doubt about the time scales for the implementation of anything to do with financial risk and affordability, given the fact that some of those issues are even more complex than the single customer view,” Leach said.

By the end of July, the regulator will publish consultation documents on financial risk and vulnerability checks, direct marketing and cross-selling, online and smartphone game design and age verification in land-based venues, Tim Miller, the commission’s executive director for research and policy, has previously said.

Miller also previously warned that complete implementation will take "years" to avoid unintended consequences.

Lord Foster does see the proposals in the white paper as a “step in the right direction” and is pleased that gambling is now being treated as a public health issue.

However, he is concerned that the proposals are not restrictive enough regarding affordability, marketing and loot boxes.

“Given that the household disposable income is around £500 a month, and that the gambling industry itself classifies gambling more than £75 a month as a high spend, I frankly don't understand why the white paper's proposed unsustainable loss,” he said.

Lord Foster questioned why the trigger is “10 times that amount” and said there should be a “single independently run system of affordability checks” that covers players across multiple operators.

Contrary to this, Tom Banks, head of corporate affairs at the Kindred Group, said the issue of financial risk checks requires stakeholders to look into the details more clearly.

“I think there are some things that could happen immediately, but I think on things like financial risk checks for example and the slot limits, we do need to make sure that these are done correctly and we see the detail,” he said.

Banks explained that although the data is available, the “kind of method of the check isn't quite there yet, and so it's really important that we get it right. It's not an overnight job.”

When it comes to advertising, Lord Foster said he is “extremely disappointed” that “very little is being done to reduce the way in which we're all bombarded by gambling, advertising and direct marketing”.

He also called for more detailed information about the proposed statutory levy, arguing that it should be a “smart levy” based on a pollution principle, where contributions are higher from earnings from the most addictive products.

“I certainly believe there is a strong case that land-based gambling in arcades, casinos and so on should pay less than online,” Lord Foster said.

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