Proposals to reform the UK gambling sector have been delayed until a new leader of the Conversative Party has replaced Boris Johnson as prime minister.
Johnson resigned on 7 July, one day after the resignation of gambling minister Chris Philp, who quit in protest at his leadership alongside dozens of dissenting Tory party MPs.
Advisers to Johnson have decided that the government’s gambling review white paper, which was scheduled to be released next week, must now be postponed until a new leader has been identified. Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are all still in the running.
Reports suggest that senior adviser David Canzini has played an influential role in the decision to delay publication. According to the Daily Mail, Canzini was the director of a firm which counted Entain-owned Ladbrokes Coral among its clients until February.
The latest postponement marks the fourth delay in publishing the white paper, which has angered both politicians and activists that are battling for reform.
There is a big tussle going on in govt right now about whether to launch the gambling white paper on Tuesday.
Gambling lobby wants a delay in the hope the new PM will water down the whole thing, so they're activating their MPs. https://t.co/3wrWSnLC7Y
— Rob Davies (@ByRobDavies) July 14, 2022
The government’s review of the 2005 Gambling Act began in 2019, when then-Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden pledged to make gambling regulation “fit for the digital age”.
Indeed, the biggest reforms are expected to impact the online sector.
Industry newsletter Earnings+More published an exclusive this week on some of the proposals after the first draft of the white paper was leaked.
The leak revealed potential background checks on punters at net losses of £125 per month or £500 per year, as well as more detailed affordability checks for losses of £1,000 within 24 hours or for a £2,000 net loss over a 90-day period.
Online slot stakes are also expected to be capped at between £2 and £5 per spin.
Betting markets are calling Mordaunt the winner (8/13, versus 10/3 Sunak and 9/2 Truss). Extraordinary
— Robert Peston (@Peston) July 14, 2022
UK trade body the Betting and Gaming Council has said: “We welcome the government’s gambling review and we strongly support many of the measures we expect to be in the forthcoming white paper. Indeed, we have campaigned for many of them.
“On behalf of the 119,000 people whose jobs depend on the regulated betting and gaming industry, we will of course study the white paper when it is published, consider the impact it might have, and respond accordingly.”
The extended delay will do little to improve the share price fortunes of publicly listed UK gambling companies, including Flutter Entertainment, Entain and 888 Holdings, which have posted year-to-date stock declines of 36%, 34% and 50% respectively.
Investors have been seeking clarity regarding the limits stated in the white paper for some time now.
They are now being made to wait until September at the earliest.
Picture by Tim Hammond/No 10 Downing Street
Drake ups the stakes
The New York Post took a deep dive this week into the sports betting history of Canadian rap sensation Drake.
While punters in the UK stress over affordability checks, at least our betting habits aren’t being put under the microscope by one of the biggest tabloid newspapers in the US.
The Hotline Bling singer is currently on a hot streak, having won a $1m wager on Israel Adesanya to win his latest UFC bout. Drake pocketed roughly $222k in profit that night.
“Drake is a celebrity whale,” professional sports bettor Bill Krackomberger told The Post. “He’s one of the most in-demand gamblers by casino marketing departments. I saw him at Aria and he was betting $200,000 a spin at roulette.”
With 39.5 million Twitter followers and a genuine passion for punting, it is easy to see why operators including Stake.com have paid mega bucks to sign Drake as a brand ambassador.
Gambling review falls down pecking order
Unless you’ve been living under a rock this week, you will know by now that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has resigned.
The Conservative Party leader had to be dragged kicking and screaming from Number 10 to announce his resignation and will now cling on to power until the autumn.
The timing of BoJo’s resignation has come at a particularly bad – or good – time for the UK gambling industry, depending which side of the fence you sit on.
The government had been expected to publish and rubberstamp its long-delayed review of the 2005 Gambling Act, but that timeline is now in tatters following the resignation of gambling minister Chris Philp, who on Thursday quit in protest at Johnson’s leadership.
“I strongly urge you to deliver the review in full and undiluted,” wrote Philp in the farewell letter to his former boss.
Industry paper the Racing Post points out that the sector could now be made to wait until autumn for any kind of clarity, with parliament due to start summer recess on 22 July.
The paper reports that a proposal contained within the review white paper places the threshold for enhanced affordability checks at a net loss of £2,000 over a 90-day period.
Operators appear to have escaped a worst case scenario in that case, although the prolonged uncertainty will do little to improve the share price fortunes of those listed in London.
Sky News looked at the delayed review and decided to run with another angle.
Premier League clubs had been expected to vote on a voluntary ban on gambling shirt sponsorship this week but that will now be postponed until 26 July at the earliest.
The initiative was thought up by the Premier League to avoid government intervention on the issue, which has been a running theme throughout the review process.
One club executive told Sky they were grateful of the breathing space as there is a wish for further discussion about the plans before they are put to a vote. Premier League rules mean that approval from at least 14 clubs is required for a vote to be approved.
Almost half of Premier League clubs, including Newcastle United and West Ham, were sponsored by betting operators last season.
Companies including Stake.com, Dafabet and Betway can breathe a sigh of relief – for now at least.
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