After the long-awaited Gambling Act white paper finally saw the light of day, many doctors, campaigners, and politicians quickly shared their disappointment in the proposed measures, calling for additional restrictions. Although the government has given itself a one-year grace period to iron out the final details, significant changes are unlikely.
The Paper Does a Lot of Things Right After years of delays, the United Kingdom’s Gambling Act white paper is finally out. The document is a definite improvement over the current regulations, offering substantial improvements in troubled areas. Such changes could not come too soon, as rising problem gambling rates magnify the country’s cost of living crisis, threatening its most vulnerable groups.
Overall, all of the White Paper’s proposed updates seem sound. Operators will have to set aside a portion of their profits to fund gambling harm treatment and prevention, additional resources for the Gambling Commission, and introducing a gambling ombudsman seem like fair ideas. Online gambling, in particular, has received significant attention as iGaming operators face significantly improved player protection guidelines.
Critics Urge for Harsher Measures and Faster Progress Despite the positive changes, many feel the document does not do enough. One of the primary criticisms of anti-gambling advocates is the lack of substantial advertising reforms. While the government denied any proven connection between advertising and gambling addiction, many charities and organizations do not share the same sentiment.
Association of Directors of Public Health VP Greg Fell warned that constantly exposing children to harmful gambling products could have severe long-term consequences. Charity Gambling with Lives shared his viewpoint, stating that a total ban on gambling advertising was the only meaningful way to reduce gambling-related deaths.
“We now need to push… for an end to all gambling advertising… and… do more to make the most dangerous products safer, further reducing stake sizes and play speeds.”
Charles Ritchie, Gambling with Lives co-founder Aside from gaming advertisements, the UK government’s generous one-year timeline was another substantial point of contention. Many campaigners, public health specialists, and MPs see it as another delay for an already long overdue reform. Consultant psychologist Dr. Matt Gaskell, head of NHS Northern Gambling Service, warned that people would continue suffering without swift and immediate action.
While the white paper proved popular in Parliament, some MPs have urged the government to act with haste and push up the implementation date. The current timeline should allow the Gambling Commission and the DCMS to review the measures and refine any rough edges. However, shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell noted that given enough political will, the legislation could become law much sooner.
“There’s no reason we can’t get all this done by the Summer recess.”
Lucy Powell, UK shadow culture secretary Despite criticisms, the government is unlikely to introduce any significant changes. The white paper is the product of years of work and is long overdue. With rising political pressure to hasten its adoption, risking delays for a potential rework is not really an option. Although the document could have done more, it still marks a substantial improvement over current regulations. As to its effectiveness, only time will tell if the critics had a point.