John Whittingdale Now Head of Gambling Law Review
Many questions have already been raised over how the government is going to proceed with new gambling regulations in the UK. And there have been some suggestions made already that have invoked backlash from players and operators. Gambling affordability checks, for example, have raised many concerns. However, things could be looking to take a positive turn, thanks to a change in leadership over who is leading these alterations.
Conservative minister, John Whittingdale, is taking over the responsibility of changing the laws surrounding gambling in the UK. His appointment to this position rattled the cages of many gambling reform campaigners. Previously, the minister for media and data, Nigel Huddleston was spearheading the changes.
Campaigners made remarks regarding Whittingdale’s record of voting against stronger gambling regulation in the past. He was the chair of the culture select committee when it produced a report that suggested FOBTs should be permitted at venues like bingo halls and amusements. That same report could have been responsible for introducing FOBTs to motorway service stations. The proposals for such were not taken up by David Cameron’s government in 2012.
Later on, in 2014, he spoke of it being “virtually impossible” to lose large sums of money on the fixed odds machines. Yet, a study conducted by the Gambling Commission discovered that FOBT players lost more than £1,000 on more than 233,000 occasions over a 10-month timeframe. This led to the government cutting the maximum stakes from £100 to £2 in 2018.
“Given the new appointee has a history of being strongly supportive of the industry, I very much hope he will be focused on the evidence and not influenced by aggressive industry lobbying,” said Carolyn Harris, Labour MP and Chair of Cross-Party MP Group Against Gambling.