Chris Philp to oversee 2005 Gambling Act in new ministerial role

Chris Philp has been appointed the new gambling minister in the latest round of changes as part of the government’s cabinet reshuffle, overseeing the review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

Appointed by PM Boris Johnson yesterday, it is unclear what the minister’s additional responsibilities outside of the Gambling Act review will be, as he replaces former incumbent John Whittingdale, who was dismissed form the role last week.

However, it could be expected that he will take a more-hardline approach to the overhaul of British gambling legislation than previous ministers, having campaigned for stricter regulation for regulation of fixed-odds betting terminals  prior to the implementation of the £2 stake limit in 2019.

Philp’s first act as gambling minister was to comment on the government’s Independent Review into the downfall of BetIndex and its subsidiary Football Index, which recommended a number of changes to both the UK Gambling Commission and Financial Conduct Authority oversight of operators.

A key conclusion of the Independent Review was that the UKGC could have acted quicker and ‘better responded to the challenges that the novel product raised’ by carrying out earlier scrutiny of the language used by Football Index and better escalating the issues surrounding it.

In response to the findings, the UKGC revealed that it would factor in ‘novel products’ when making assessments of operator risk, introduce ‘tighter rules for the terminology used to describe gambling products’ and strengthen its Memorandum of Understanding with the FCA.

“I’m extremely conscious of how devastating the collapse of Football Index has been on its many customers, which is why we moved quickly to launch this independent review,” Philp remarked. 

“We have been clear that we must learn lessons to make sure a situation like this does not happen again. I’m encouraged to see the Gambling Commission and the FCA are taking concrete steps on an action plan on how they will better work together.

“We will ensure that the findings from this review feed directly into our ongoing Gambling Act Review which is looking at ways we can improve regulation of the gambling industry.”

Philp will serve under newly appointed DCMS secretary Nadine Dorries, who replaced Oliver Dowden earlier as one of the first major changes of the cabinet reshuffle last week.

Welcoming the minister, Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, said: “On behalf of the 119,000 people whose jobs are supported by BGC members, I welcome Chris Philp as the new minister responsible for gambling. He comes to the brief with an excellent reputation as a talented and extremely capable minister.

The BGC Chief further highlighted the organisations desire not to ‘lose momentum’ as the industry, regulators and government work towards the gambling review white paper, whilst reiterating the betting industry’s £4.5bn tax contribution as well as £7.7bn in gross value added to the British economy.

He concluded: “I look forward to working with Chris in the months ahead as the BGC continues to drive big changes and higher standards on safer gambling, ensuring we get the balance right between protecting the vulnerable while ensuring that the millions who enjoy a flutter safely and responsibly have the freedom to do so.”