The wider view of the gambling White Paper

Gambling Insider looks at what several people in the industry think about the White Paper’s impact and how it will change the UK’s gambling industry from here.

in depth gambling act white paper 1

When the UK Government’s White Paper on the country’s gambling industry dropped last week, it marked the end of years of waiting, delays, rumours and calls by a variety of groups to include a myriad of different new legislative restrictions or allowances.

In the end, the White Paper was a mixture of what many had called for in some form, with the UK’s Gambling Commission specifically given more power to intercede in the industry to further protect players against regulatory failures.

The review, which will now undergo the process of being looked at and the recommendations in it made law, touched almost all corners of British society – from the betting shops on the high street to the Premier League, with its clubs voting to ban front-of-shirt sponsorships from the 2025/26 season onwards for gambling companies.

Since it dropped, the release of the White Paper has prompted those from across the industry to comment on the impact that it would have on players, companies and the future of UK gambling.

"The fox can be trained to guard the henhouse" Harry Stewart-Moore

The responsible view

For those that deal with responsible gambling, the review was generally praised, with GambleAware’s CEO Zoë Osmond saying that the company “whole-heartedly support the introduction of a statutory levy on the gambling industry to ensure sustainable and transparent funding for research, education and treatment.”

Adding that the White Paper was “a welcome step in the right direction for the prevention of gambling harms – and it is now critical that we act with urgency to ensure that the measures outlined are implemented swiftly, especially given that so many of them are subject to further consultation.”

In an exclusive to Gambling Insider, BetBlocker’s Duncan Garvie said that it “welcomed the release of the White Paper, which outlines much-needed updates to gambling legislation to better address the realities of the modern remote gambling industry.”

He then expressed his wish that the Gambling Commission would “ensure that all RET approved organisations, both large and small, are included in the dialogue surrounding how funding from the levy will be distributed in future.

“By doing so, the regulator will ensure they create a system that supports all of the services on the frontline, helping thousands of vulnerable people in the UK every day. Engaging with these established sector experts will help ensure the proposed reforms are deployed in the most comprehensive and effective manner.”

The middle ground

For some others, the recommendations were not as heavy as initially thought, with Keystone Law’s Richard Williams saying that the UK’s land-based industry would be better off, though this has come at the expense of the online markets – particularly when it came to sportsbooks.

“Casinos will be delighted with the proposals to offer sports betting, which has always been a strange restriction. Holders of dormant casino licences will also be happy to hear that it may be possible to relocate these to other local authority areas in future.”

Williams also had words of warning for the implementation of the recommendations dragging on for too long, stating that: “Let’s hope that these proposals will go far enough to satisfy those on both sides of the debate. What nobody wants is a further two years of consultation on some of these proposals, or worse still, the next Government including in its manifesto a further review of gambling legislation.”

The not good enough

And, in other corners, some parts of the White Paper didn’t cover everything.

Iain Duncan Smith, MP, welcomed the review as a whole but criticised the lack of further regulation proposals for advertising and children. Simply saying that it hadn’t gone “far enough.”

Meanwhile, Flutter Entertainment CEO Peter Jackson said that the proposals would hit the company’s bottom line, stating: "The group's current best view is that the gross incremental revenue impact from the proposed measures announced today could be between £50m – £100m ($60m -$125m).

“This would result in the total cumulative revenue impact of changes already introduced and those announced today of between £200m – £250m of annual UK revenue.”

Finally, Harry Stewart-Moore, Commercial Litigator and Sports Law expert for Gardner Leader, doubted whether or not bookmakers could verify whether or not a customer could afford to place a bet.

He commented on the proposal: “There is a major question mark over whether bookmakers have the necessary expertise to carry out the necessary checks or to make a call on what a customer can or cannot afford. There continues to be a view in gambling regulation that: 'The fox can be trained to guard the henhouse.'"

"What nobody wants is a further two years of consultation on some of these proposals, or worse still, the next Government including in its manifesto a further review of gambling legislation" Richard Williams

Times are-a-changin’

The review has changed the future for UK gambling, as the oversight of online gambling and player protections has been pushed hard by the UK’s Government – as well as ensuring that the land-based industry has a brighter future that isn’t completely stifled by the mammoth online market that has completely shifted the industry since the approval of the last Gambling Act in 2005.

There are opinions and opposing opinions found on all sides, but what the White Paper brings across more than anything is that the industry has needed to evolve for some time – and, if nothing else, this empowers a list of changes that many in the industry have welcomed.

In the end, it further protects players, offers curbs on the use of advertising and what children should and shouldn’t see, keeps land-based gaming in focus and superpowers the Gambling Commission.

Will the reforms work once in practice? That will only be known once everything is in place and has been for some time – because the next review of the industry won’t be coming now for some time.

But what is for sure is that, as Bob Dylan once wrote, “The times they are-a-changin’.”

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