Jake’s Journal: Please put us out of our misery and publish the Gambling Act review
Two years, three months, and 28 days. That is how long it’s been since the UK government’s then culture secretary first announced a review into gambling.
And we are all still waiting for the results. It feels like there have been at least 50 ministers responsible for gambling in that time, as well as three whole prime ministers.The white paper on this topic has been sent to the back of the filing cabinet under each PM, all of whom had more pressing priorities.
These have ranged from negotiating Brexit and navigating an unprecedented global health crisis, to partying during a police-enforced public lockdown and trying to outlast a lettuce.
Each of the above had one thing in common, despite varying degrees of success; they were all deemed more important than publishing new regulations for gambling in Great Britain.
People are rightly pissed off with the delay, which has primarily impacted two groups.
On the one side, you have the nation’s regulated gambling industry, which has been left in limbo over its future operating conditions, and uncertainty is never good for business.
“I, meanwhile, count myself as a not-so-proud member of a third group – the I Am Just So Sick And Tired Of Hearing About The Gambling Act Review group. It is free to join, by the way.”
On the other side you have gambling reform campaigners and disordered gamblers, many of whom were chauffeured down the long road to ruin by the industry’s biggest brands.
I, meanwhile, count myself as a not-so-proud member of a third group – the I Am Just So Sick And Tired Of Hearing About The Gambling Act Review group. It is free to join, by the way.
The government’s review of gambling regulation has taken such a long time that people on all sides have become numb to the very mention of it. We’re just so bored of waiting.Because of that, the impact of the new regulations will be greatly reduced. It doesn’t help that they have been drip fed for the best part of 850 days to serve interests on both sides.
We already know what is going to happen. Premier League clubs will agree to remove betting logos from shirts, a mandatory levy for RET services will be enforced, and affordability checks will be tightened. But most of these have already happened.
So often in this industry the devil is in the detail, but that might not be the case this time around, and we could be staring down the barrel of an almighty anti-climax.
It will be just like going out on New Year’s Eve. All that anticipation, all that excitement and all that sense of occasion, only to be deeply disappointed by a damp squib of a non-event.
“So often in this industry the devil is in the detail, but that might not be the case this time around, and we could be staring down the barrel of an almighty anti-climax.”
Spontaneous nights out are the ones we remember. Those with no expectation and no pre-planning. Perhaps the government should go rogue and introduce an overnight ban on gambling on horse racing.That would spice things up a bit, if only for the reaction of the Racing Post.
There is is no danger of that though. Sunak has already shown his pro-business approach as chancellor and the treasury needs every pound it can get. He is also constituency MP for Catterick Racecourse in North Yorkshire, so please put down your pitchforks. I was only joking.
When it does eventually get published, when we’re grey and old, the review’s recommendations are likely to dissatisfy both sides of the debate.
The best result for the rest of us is that we will no longer have to hear about it.