John Whittingdale, the DCMS minister overseeing the review of the 2005 Gambling Act, has been removed from his position in PM Boris Johnson’s latest cabinet reshuffle.
The minister will be returning the backbenches, and will allegedly be replaced by former Cabinet Office Parliamentary Secretary Julia Lopez, MP for the Greater London constituency of Hornchurch and Upminster.
Despite her promotion to DCMS, Lopez’s ministerial assignments are yet to be confirmed.
Whittingdale had been appointed to the position in March, charged with overseeing the briefs of the review of the 2005 Gambling Act and the UK’s reform of digital data rights post-Brexit
His appointment had drawn criticism from gambling reform advocates due to his previous voting record concerning betting and gaming industry issues.
His parliamentary record included voting against allowing local governments to regulate betting shops and fixed odds betting terminals in 2014, as well as supporting the presence of FOBTs at amusement arcades and motorway service stations.
Commenting on Twitter, Whittingdale said: “I am sorry to be stepping down as Minister for Media and Data and saying goodbye to a great team of ministers and officials. It has been a privilege to play a part in shaping the future of UK public service broadcasting and in reforming our data laws using our new Brexit freedom.”
Whittingdale’s tenure as Media and Data Minister saw him preside over the downfall of Football Index and subsequent fallout, including examination of the UK Gambling Commission’s (UKGC) oversight.
Michael Dugher, Chief Executive of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), said in a tweet that Whittingdale was a ‘talented, tough but fair minister’ who ‘always understood the contribution’ the gaming industry makes to the UK’s economy.
“He was also unrelenting in driving the industry to keep changing & further raise standards on safer gambling,” the CEO added.
The appointment of Julia Lopez as a minister for DCMS was confirmed amid a number of junior promotions made by PM Boris Johnson, who is reported to want to shake-up the management of key departments.
Leadership changes saw Nadine Dorries confirmed as new DCMS Secretary, replacing Oliver Dowden, charged with the key briefs of BBC reforms, digital rights, the review of football governance and the appointment of Ofcom’s new chairman.