The most recent Health Survey for England found that 246,000 people are considered problem gamblers, an issue that Conservative MP Paul Scully hopes to tackle with the upcoming review of the Gambling Act.
Speaking at GambleAware’s ‘Taking action to tackling gambling harms as a public health issue’ conference, Scully noted that the review will use “targeted, proportionate and effective reform”, while stressing that gambling harms “cannot be tackled in isolation”.
As a part of Rishi Sunak’s government, Scully was appointed Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy, taking on the challenge of completing the Gambling Act review that has been delayed several times, most recently due to the country’s political debacle.
Scully addressed the governmental merry-go-round in the GambleAware speech, stating that he is “aware that you’ve seen a few different faces in the role of gambling minister in the last six months.”
Scully mentioned that the government is keen to publish its long-awaited review and white paper “in the coming weeks” to establish an updated regulatory framework for the UK, but explained that “causes of gambling related harm are complex to unpick and address.”
He stated: “Individual circumstances, environmental and other health factors play a role, but our approach also needs to look at the products and the practices.
“We also need to make sure anyone who is experiencing gambling-related harm can access the right support whenever and wherever they might need it.
“As you all know, we’ve been carrying out the most thorough review of gambling law since the 2005 Act. We want to publish it as soon as we can, but also we need to make sure we get it right.”
Commenting on the recent influx of financial penalties in the industry for regulatory misbehaviour, Scully said: “In the past year alone we’ve seen a number of operators pay out over £45m because of regulatory failures – two of the largest operators alone have paid £26m.
“By comparison, in the whole of the 2016/17 financial year, the Commission took action against three operators who paid £1.7m due to regulatory failures.
“The review is an opportunity to build on these changes, and do more to make sure we have the right protections for the digital age.”
To conclude his speech, Scully pointed out the need to publish the review. He stated: “The Gambling Act review is an opportunity to put the right framework in place to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities which have come with the changes since the 2005 Gambling Act was passed.”
“We’re determined to make sure that the review gets the right protections in place. We are committed to the review and I am aware that delays to the white paper have been difficult.
“I am pleased to confirm that we are keen to publish it in the coming weeks. But, I want to make clear that the white paper is not the end of our discussions on these matters.”