Will the UKGC White Paper Be Delayed Again

Sunak reshuffles UKGC Scully in new position sparking fears the UK gambling reform white paper could face further delays – in other news Ed Davey is caught sleeping! (Photo by Anna Nekrashevich on pexels.com)

The UK gambling scene is yet again in turmoil. After announcing that the long-awaited white paper is in its final stages, UK prime minister Sunak has flippantly reshuffled his government. It means PauL Scully, a key proponent of the UK gambling reform white paper will move on.

A part of the current delay to the white paper issued was when Chief Executive Neil McArthur decided to step down. Paul Scully was finally named as the new UK Gambling Minister and he promised to finalise the white paper. Less than 6 months into the role and he’s out! It’s shocking if I am honest.

The idea was the white paper on UK gambling reform would be released before 30 March 2023, which is when the government will go into recess. With Scully now part of the Department for Science,

For the UK gambling industry, this is a huge blow for several reasons. Scully listened to both sides of the argument and shot down compulsory affordability checks, which some say could have torn down the UK gambling industry. Already

In my opinion, these checks would have pushed out any newcomers into the industry and would have left UK gamblers with less choice creating a similar situation we have seen with Google and search engines and Microsoft and Apple in the operating system market.

With the reshuffle now confirmed, news of delays to the white paper is spreading like wildfire. In an industry where there is already uncertainty, this is a disastrous situation. New operators will not want to enter the UKGC market, and many operators are already on the brink of exiting the market.

Affordability Checks Will Increase Black Market Gambling: Recent study by YouGov found affordability checks were frowned upon. 65% of respondents said they would rather play at unregulated sites. As per my recent Plans to Destroy Another Billion GBP UK Industry news story.

Who will take over from Scully?

Lucy Frazer is now taking over The Department of Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS). She takes over Paul Scully’s position and thus becomes the new head of the UKGC. She is now the twelfth person in thirteen years to take on the role. Finishing the UK gambling reform white paper is something that many expect to be her first call of duty.

The question now is, how can the white paper move on quickly after the reshuffle? Will Ms Frazer take on the stance of ‘Common Sense’ gambling reform or will she push the industry into dismay by reversing rules in the current draft? This is where uncertainty settles in. We just don’t know, but let’s look at what could happen if she makes the wrong decisions. We can only hope Ms Frazer’s approach is going to be more methodical than a recent comment made by Ed Davey (more on that comment in the section below).

Here are the highly likely results of a tough approach to the UK gambling reform white paper:

  • Black market gambling becomes rampant: As per the above-highlighted point and the news story ‘Plans to Destroy Another Billion GBP UK Industry’ report discusses, a tough or nonchalant approach to the white paper could have an adverse effect on implementing regulation. That is one that sees UK players return to the dark ages and begin betting at black market online casinos and sports betting sites. And it’s not like there aren’t options out there either. There are plenty of black-market casinos that run their operations on the basis of ‘good service’ and ‘trust’.
  • Lack of consumer choice: A U-turn on the good work already put into the white paper could see the UK gambling market fall into the hands of just a few powerful companies. As per the ICE London 2023 UKGC speeches, acquisitions have seen 50% of the UK’s gaming industry’s market share fall into the hand of the top 3 operator groups. On top of this, 77% of the market share is in the hands of the top 10. These percentages will only increase if Ms Frazer comes in and decides to tighten the existing rules in the current draft white paper. Consequently, smaller companies, as we have already seen, will exit the market negatively affecting consumer choice. In the same ICE London speech, Mr Rhodes recognises some operators have reported losses during 2022 partly due to the current additional costs of implementing the UKGC’s strict responsible gambling measures.

Speaking to UK Players: I spoke with a few UK players myself. By and large, they know little about a ‘white paper’. Why would they? They are just players and not journalists. However, they said they have no problem turning to black market gambling if there are too many restrictions placed on them!

Ed Davey forgets to do his research before making ridiculous comment on gambling tax

Sometimes you have to wonder how these people get into positions of power. The latest oddity was Ed Davey’s (he doesn’t deserve the sir after his latest comment) idea to tax the gambling industry to pay for social care. Talk about getting caught sleeping on the job. I bet Paul Scully and co are having a giggle over this one!

My first question is – ‘Has this guy done any research on the UK gambling industry?’ I wonder if he even knows what the UK gambling reform white paper is.

After Ed Davey’s latest comment, I sit here scratching my head wondering he has ended up leading a UK political party. Does he know what ‘consumer choice is? It seems not – is the man the man Britain wants leading their country? Well not after that comment! Is he aware that his suggested tax implications would push additional costs onto UK gamblers who would then seek black-market gambling? Because one thing is certain. People won’t stop gambling in the UK; they will simply look for a better option and that would be the black market. He’s clearly not researched the topic to gain a grip of what raising taxes on gambling would do!

Davey’s flippant and unimaginative confirms what I said in my ‘Plans to Destroy Another Billion GBP UK Industry’ news story. That was ministers that make flippant comments because they don’t have the intellect to be innovative. Let’s bully a soar topic to gain popularity. I feel sorry for those who are loyal to the Lib Dems in the UK because this man clearly has no innovation in him to (a) win an election or (b) change the current issues the UK is facing. All I can say is ‘what a plonker’!

Stay up to date with more UK gambling news: Right now, the UK’s gambling industry is at boiling point and we’ll be covering developments every step of the way here in the Casinoplusbonus iGaming news columns. You can also keep an eye on the UKGC news columns for white paper updates.