UK PM Liz Truss Appoints New Gambling Reform Boss, No Time Line Yet for Changes

Posted on: September 7, 2022, 12:30h. 

Last updated on: September 7, 2022, 03:56h.

Now that Liz Truss has officially taken over as the prime minister of the UK, there’s a new Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the body overseeing the country’s gambling reform. But this doesn’t necessarily mean change is going to come quickly.

Michelle Donelan
Michelle Donelan, the new Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, poses for a picture. She will take over a review of gambling reform in the UK, but when she might present the new rules is still unclear. (Image: The New Statesman)

Michelle Donelan assumes the role following government positions overseeing education. She was previously the Minister of State for Higher and Further Education from September 2021 to July. Donelan then became the Secretary of State for Education for what may be a new record for the shortest term.

Donelan took over for Zahawi as the Secretary of State for Education, but only for two days, departing on July 7. The seven-year veteran MP and more than 50 other ministers resigned in the wake of the scandal created by former PM Boris Johnson.

Donelan once had a stint in the marketing department of World Wrestling Entertainment and is an avid supporter of gambling reform. She previously stated that gambling has “destroyed far too many lives” and that it preys on the vulnerable. 

The former Secretary of the DCMS, Nadine Dorries, resigned shortly before Truss took over. Nadhim Zahawi, a cofounder of YouGov, held the latter position from September 2021 to July 5, 2022. He resigned after being appointed Exchequer Chancellor following Rishi Sunak’s departure from the position. Sunak had once been a front-runner to be the next PM of the UK.

Looking Ahead

Donelan will work with an almost entirely new ministerial cabinet going forward. For the first time in the history of the UK, no white male is serving in any of the top four government positions – prime minister, chancellor, and home and foreign secretaries. That’s a significant moment in a country where more than 78% of the population identifies as white.

Gambling reform in the UK has been in the works for several years. The final white paper on the topic was coming this month, but that was before the government began to fall apart. As Truss tries to put the house in order, gambling reform remains at the forefront. The paper could again become a priority with Donelan’s interest in gambling.

BGC Sends its Regards

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) didn’t waste time welcoming Donelan back to the political family. CEO Michael Dugher congratulated her on the appointment, adding that it was “well-deserved,” according to a BGC statement.

Dugher reminded Donelan that the organization, which represents the vast majority of retail and online gambling activity in the UK, has played an important role in gambling reform. He highlighted the interaction the BGC has had with the DCMS to shape policy. Going forward, he hopes to continue the same with the new DCMS boss.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Gambling Related Harm sent its regards as well. It said on Twitter that there have been enough delays to gambling reform and that it’s now time for action.

The gaming industry will be closely watching Donelan over the next few days. They will learn what she has on the agenda as she sinks into the new position.