According to Paul Scully, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Tech and the Digital Economy, the United Kingdom’s long-awaited gambling white paper might be issued in the next few weeks. Scully acknowledged that the paper was nearing completion during his speech at a meeting of the UK’s Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), of which he is a member.
The original plan was to release this white paper in September of last year. However, that deadline was pushed back many times. Unforeseen circumstances, such as the virtual rearrangement of the government, have however resulted in many delays to the release date. Scully has assured that, despite the setback, continuous conversations with major industry actors, government officials, and regulators will drive the gaming sector into the future.
BGC chief Michael Dugher has stressed that not even those working on the project have a crystal-clear understanding of what lies ahead. There is just one certainty: the white paper will be published, and its arrival will have far-reaching consequences for the UK gaming industry.
Although the Department of Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) is in charge of publicizing the change, other branches of government are providing feedback. The office of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak may get engaged, depending on the progress of the white paper.
The process of putting the changes into action will likely be continuous, requiring communication between key stakeholders in the business, government officials, and regulators.
Key Issues to be Addressed
Consumer spending is one of the most hotly debated issues in the gaming business, and it’s likely to be addressed in the white paper. The UK Gambling Commission and others have raised the problem of affordability checks as a major issue. But Scully proposed a different approach, suggesting “financial risk” assessments rather than affordability tests. While rebranding them as “affordability checks” could help, some people still worry that they would hurt the UK gaming sector.
At present, gambling businesses in the UK voluntarily fund organizations like the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and the responsible gambling charity GambleAware, which monitor the industry. Even with these voluntary payments, the UKGC and others are advocating for an obligatory payment in which all businesses would pay 1% of their income to GambleAware on top of all other taxes and donations. The white paper is likely to provide details about this tax.