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UK Government Review of Gambling Laws No Longer Due Until May | Gambling

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Long-awaited government proposals to reform gambling laws are unlikely to be published until May, according to the Guardian, in a further delay that has prompted a Labor MP to urge unrest in the Conservative Party not do not interfere with the process.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) launched a review of gambling laws in December 2020, amid growing concern about child addiction and exposure by football advertising and sponsorship.

A white paper was originally due to be published before the end of 2021 but was delayed to early 2022 after a cabinet reshuffle which saw John Whittingdale replaced as games minister by Chris Philp.

The proposals are now not expected until May, three sources with knowledge of the process told the Guardian, fueling renewed concern among gambling addiction campaigners demanding urgent reform.

Carolyn Harris, who chairs a cross-party group of MPs examining gambling damages, has expressed fears that uncertainty surrounding the future of Boris Johnson, who is believed to support gambling reform, could disrupt the review.

‘Of course you have to take the time to gather the evidence to make sure the right reforms are put in place, but the gambling review was announced over two years ago,’ said the Labor MP .

“Every day of delay brings further gambling-related damage while the industry reaps the benefits. The government must not let its own internal problems get in the way of much-needed reforms for this country – it’s time to act.

Liz Ritchie co-founded the charity Gambling With Lives with her husband Charles after their son Jack died of gambling at school. “Someone in the UK commits suicide every day because of gambling, so we just can’t wait until May to see this white paper,” she said.

“How many more families need to be broken up by highly addictive gambling products and predatory gambling industry practices before the government acts?”

Ministers and DCMS officials have worked closely with the industry regulator, the Gambling Commission, on potential reforms to improve protection for drug users and other vulnerable people.

But the regulator is under-resourced, according to reports from the Public Accounts Committee and National Audit Office, as it also oversees the decision on which company will win the next 10-year license to operate the National Lottery. A decision is expected this month or early March.

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Matt Zarb-Cousin, former adviser to Jeremy Corbyn and recovering drug addict who runs campaign group Clean Up Gambling, said the review was urgently needed “before more people are harmed as a result of a regulation that is not fit for purpose”.

The government’s review of gambling laws has sparked a flurry of lobbying activity.

Reform campaigners, aided by funding from former casino and poker industry veteran Derek Webb, have brought to light stories of dependency and transgressions by major operators in the industry.

Gambling industry links to MPs have come under scrutiny, including lucrative second jobs and hospitality given to politicians, some of whom were members of a group that wrote a controversial report criticizing the Gambling Commission for trying to reduce gambling addiction.

The DCMS declined to comment.