ICE London: DCMS calls on industry to stay engaged with reform process

February 6, 2023 12:58 PM
Photo: CDC Gaming Reports
  • Hannah Gannagé-Stewart, CDC Gaming Reports
February 6, 2023 12:58 PM
  • Hannah Gannagé-Stewart, CDC Gaming Reports
  • United Kingdom

Department for Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) Gambling and Lotteries Deputy Director Sarah Fox has called on the industry to remain engaged with the UK’s gambling-reform process, despite ongoing delays.

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The UK’s Gambling Act review has been in progress since December 2020, with three UK separate prime ministers in post since then.

Speaking at the opening session of the ICE Vox World Regulatory Briefing on Monday, Fox, who took up her current role in June 2022, acknowledged it had been “a very stretching time”.

However, she urged the industry to remain engaged in the process and to continue to feed back to policy makers.

“My big ask of you today is to keep engaged, as you have done over the previous stages of the review, and that counts for international colleagues as well”, she said.

“We’ve had some really great submissions to our call for evidence from international counterparts, where we could reflect on different circumstances, different policy positions, lessons in your jurisdictions, which are really invaluable to us.”

Recalling that the White Paper was on the brink of publication when she joined the department seven months ago, Fox said that despite her 20 years in the civil service, her previous experience hadn’t prepared her for what happened over the last seven months.

“It was such a critical time when I first joined the team. We were just about to publish the White Paper, the biggest review of gambling regulation that we’ve had in Britain. We were literally weeks away and it’s stayed weeks away for the last seven months.”

While Fox was not at liberty to preview the White Paper content, which we are now led to believe may surface over the next few weeks, she repeatedly underscored the need for it to be “evidence based”.

She emphasised that the White Paper itself will not be “the final word on gambling reform”, instead setting out a vision for future regulation and launching a further period of consultation with the industry and other stakeholders.

“We’re looking to make the changes right, deliver the intended policy outcomes, and hopefully future-proof the framework for future generations”, she said. “We know that the world itself is innovating so quickly that it’s very hard to keep regulation and legislation in line. We really need to make this as flexible as possible, so that we can try and pre-empt some of those changes.”

Fox admitted to “gaps” in the evidence for gambling-related harm, highlighting that gambling still remains far behind other public-health issues in terms of “punchy factual evidence”. It was unclear at what point those gaps may be filled and whether those drafting the White Paper will be able to access enough data to create a truly evidence-based report.