Boris Johnson’s resignation as Prime Minister has left UK gambling in limbo with regards to its regulatory future, as frustrated incumbents continue to wait for the publication of the government’s White Paper review of the 2005 Gambling Act.
As the current situation stands, the government has under two weeks to publish the White Paper before Parliament’s recess on 22 July. That leaves precious little time to meet DCMS’ continuously re-scheduled agenda to inform operators and industry stakeholders of inbound reforms by the first half of 2022.
The PM’s office communicated that Johnson plans to stay at Number-10, until a new Conservative Party leader is elected by Autumn. The outgoing PM’s desire will likely be challenged by opposition parties that want Johnson to face a vote of no confidence.
The spotlight has turned to the 1922 Committee which will set out the rules and timetable for the Conservative Party leadership contest.
Party peers have urged the 1922 Committee to speed up the contest’s ‘secret ballot’ process, to ensure that the final two leadership candidates are revealed to the public before Parliament’s summer recess.
However, the deep-divisions within the Conservative Party point towards a fractious contest, as thus far 12 MPs have stated their intent to run for party leadership that may require the Committee to amend rules.
Gambling’s White Paper remains hostage to a government in turmoil, as yesterday senior Conservative Peer and Minister for Brexit Opportunities Jacob Rees Mogg told the BBC that the public should “expect no bills to be signed-off, for a period of three months”.
Should Johnson remain in office until September, the PM will be supported by an interim cabinet as government departments have yet to confirm whether MPs who resigned in protest will be re-appointed to their former duties.
Yesterday, DCMS Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston told opposition parties that the conclusion of the White Paper remained a priority for the government, saying that “we will publish a white paper setting out a new vision for the sector in the coming weeks”.
Questioned on whether the government would impose reported stake limits on online casino wagers and a statutory levy for problem gambling treatment, Huddleston simply replied that the “review was comprehensive, covering many areas of gambling”.