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'Life Saving' Review of Gambling Laws Won't Happen Until Next Year

30 November 2020

The UK Government had admitted the planned review of gambling laws won't happen until next year.

In its 2019 General Election Manifesto, the Conservative party promised to hold an official review as a key step towards reform and it was set to begin this month.

In September, reports suggested the Prime Minister Boris Johnson was to take charge of the review.

But Sarah Healey, a senior civil servant at the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport told the Commons Public Accounts Committee that the she was not able to give a firm timetable for the review:

‘I’m not able to give a firm timeline, we will seek to publish it as soon as possible. I would not expect to see it imminently."
Sarah Healey DCMS
Watch the key exchange where Ms Healey answers specific questions on the gambling law review

Strong Back­lash

News that the review has been delayed until next year has prompted a strong response from MPs on both sides of the Commons.

Richard Holden MP, a Tory member of the Public Accounts Committee said:

"The fact that the most senior civil servant in the culture department now seems to be backing away from getting the gambling review kicked off is very worrying."
Richard Holden MP

He added:

‘A proper review of the 2005 Gambling Act has cross-party support and was a manifesto commitment of the Conservative Party.’
Richard Holden MP

Labour's Carolyn Harris meanwhile also criticised the delay:

"We had been led to believe that Boris Johnson will personally spearhead the reform of Britain’s broken gambling laws. The virus is not an excuse – getting this review under way now will be a matter of life and death for hundreds of families."
Carolyn Harris MP

Wide Ran­ging Review

Reports had indicated the review would be wide-ranging, with big changes planned to reform and update the UK's gambling laws.

It is also thought that once the review is launched, changes to gambling laws would take a further two years to be implemented.

A major report from the House of Lords into gambling related harms said each individual with a gambling addiction harmed six others through crime, financial loss, family breakdown and domestic violence.

CARE’s Response

CARE is committed too engaging with the review, building on our experience of campaigning for law change in respect to highly addictive fixed odds betting terminals. We recently responded to a public consultation on loot boxes in video games, calling for them to be properly classified as a form of gambling. Gambling related harms cause social devastation and the promised review is just the first step towards genuine change. Any unnecessary delay is deeply regrettable and we will continue to press the Government to get on with the review as soon as possible.

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While for some, gambling is just harmless fun, for a significant minority it causes genuine devastation. Our vision is to see laws passed that will help protect vulnerable problem gamblers.

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