Liberal Democrats propose to tackle problem gambling with new legislation


With the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto promising to crack down on black market betting and Labour set to introduce its manifesto this Thursday, it’s all to roll the dice for until the 4th of July. Imogen Moss, solicitor for licensing law firm Poppleston Allen has shared these comments:

“The question on the gambling industry’s lips is: ‘Will the general election undo all the work of the Gambling Act White Paper?’ And the wider question is, of course, whether the regulatory changes of the review will be implemented as planned or confined to the legislative scrapheap.

“A delay seems most likely – nothing will happen in respect of the DCMS work on gambling reform until later into the summer now, at the earliest.

“The Gambling Commission should stay on the same route, with consultations already active and changes published relating to direct marketing, age verification on premises, remote game design, financial vulnerability and financial risk online, and Personal Management Licence requirements.

“We will start to see these taking effect in August. There will also be the changes to the timing and period for the regulatory returns.

“Elections are always an uncertain time for any sector, but much of the hard work has been done already by gambling industry professionals. The statutory instruments were likely only a few weeks away, before the election was announced.

“Those changes which require updates to legislation are on hold for now, including changes to machine entitlements in AGCs and bingo venues, introduction of a Levy and an Ombudsman and cashless payments.

“Safer gambling should remain a central theme to any legislative changes, so some of the measures, which provide protection to consumers, will stay the same such as the Levy and Ombudsman – even if the Government changes.

“It is not unheard of for a new Government to want to make its own stamp on an important issue, but with so much to address elsewhere in the country, gambling reform may not be high on its agenda. There will be a new gambling minister come what may, following the resignation of Stuart Andrew.

“Should, as it seems likely, there be a new Labour Government, it may be that the former shadow minister Stephanie Peacock will step into the role of gambling minister. She has spoken at the Betting & Gaming Council’s recent Annual General Meeting and has taken part at recent debates in parliament regarding gambling. We can probably say she has been pragmatic so far, expressing some concern about levy rates and the impact of changes on the racing industry, but also supporting further protection of consumers.

“There could be a re-shuffle, however, should Labour form a Government and we could get a totally fresh face in the role of gambling minister who may wish to revisit some of the proposed changes.

“So far in the lead up to the election, and over recent years, the bigger parties have had similar views on gambling policy. And we don’t yet have their manifestos.

“In the run up to the July 4th election, the best course is to keep engaging with your trade associations and up to date on any forthcoming LCCP changes by subscribing to the Gambling Commission’s E – Bulletin. The likelihood is that little will happen between now and the election, and with summer recess shortly after, we may be looking to autumn until we get any further substantial updates.”