UK Could Face “War” If It Doesn’t Take Hard Stance Against Gambling

Posted on: May 30, 2022, 05:25h. 

Last updated on: May 30, 2022, 11:05h.

If rumors are true, the UK may not include certain measures in its gambling reform that appeared in the draft. A long-standing Member of Parliament, Iain Duncan Smith, is ready to declare “war” on the government if this is the case.

Iain Duncan Smith
Iain Duncan Smith, a British MP who wants the government to exert more control over the gambling industry. If it doesn’t, he’s ready to fight for change. (Image: The Mirror)

Previously, the UK’s gambling reform was going to include a provision that would force operators to contribute to a responsible gambling fund. Currently, they make voluntary contributions, which still provide millions of pounds to government initiatives.

In addition, there was a “guarantee” that the reform would include language that prohibited sports sponsorships by gambling operators. This, like the mandatory contributions, may not make it into the final draft. Smith told the Sunday Times this weekend that he will “go to war with the government” if it backs down.

UK Pumps the Brakes

There are a number of reasons why the UK may now be considering a softer approach to new gambling laws. Perhaps legislators are employing more common sense with their reforms. Or perhaps they’re listening to the people. Either way, the result is both promising and surprising.

Instead of mandating financial contributions, the government may push for more voluntary support from operators. This is only based on unofficial sources close to the topic. But the objective is to avoid adding new taxes to the industry.

Should the voluntary contributions fail, however, the government will leave the door open for the addition of new levies. Some have argued that the current system lacks “transparency and accountability,” despite the fact that operators’ contributions are recorded and available for scrutiny.

Last year, Smith said that the gambling industry “poses a very real threat to our communities.” However, according to the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), problem gambling only comprises 0.2% of the industry. This is a decrease of 50% from where the segment stood a year ago.

He now continues his hardline stance, telling the Sunday Times yesterday, “The evidence is clear about the damage problem gambling can cause. I will not compromise on the levy.”

No Gambling Sponsorship Ban

The issue of sports sponsorships by gaming operators is a highly sensitive topic. There is a significant percentage of the population that would support such a ban, and many teams also back the idea. However, it would also mean a decline in revenue for clubs, media companies and gaming operators.

That may be why the government is considering scrapping the ban in its gambling reform. Instead, according to the Sunday Times’ sources, the government may try to work with clubs in the Premier League to discuss a voluntary jersey ban.

In the meantime, the government will research the “evidence on the positive and negative outcomes” of allowing gaming operators to advertise on sports jerseys.

Smith has an ally for his war in MP Carolyn Harris, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on gambling harms. She, too, believes the removal of the restrictive measures is detrimental to society.

However, Harris is ready for battle and is willing to go to war with Smith. The UK Department for Culture Media and Sport will present its white paper on gambling next month. Then, it will be time to see who wins the fight.