Gambling Minister Paul Scully Speaks at BGC AGM

31.01.2023

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Carl Hughes Betting Expert

Updated:January 31, 2023

UK Gambling Minister Paul Scully MP was one of the main speakers at the UK Betting and Gaming Council’s Annual General Meeting. Scully, whose formal job title is Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Tech and the Digital Economy, addressed the attendees at the meeting, and, as expected, spoke mainly about the upcoming White Paper on gambling which will be published by his department in February. The White Paper is expected to be one of the most important events in the history of UK betting and gaming industry.

The Betting and Gaming Commission was established in 2019 and currently represents over 90% of all licensed betting and gaming businesses in the UK. This includes betting sites, retail betting shops, gaming operators, casinos, and bingos. Being a member of the Commission means that the betting or gaming operator agrees to follow the Commission’s strict code of conduct and commits to actively invest resources and funding into work that improves industry standards. The members of the Betting and Gaming Commission include all large UK betting and gaming providers, including bet365, Flutter Entertainment, Entain, William Hill and 888, Gamesys, Kindred Group, and many others.

Speaking about the White Paper, Scully said that he did not want to reveal too much before the publication date, however covered some of the most anticipated topics. He pointed out that the White Paper was an important opportunity for the UK betting and gaming industry to become a world leader in the area of gambling policy. He reiterated that the changes proposed in it are not meant to interfere with the operation of the companies behind betting sites and casinos, but to ensure that there were measures and protections in place for those at risk of gambling harm.

Scully expressed his understanding that the betting sites operate in circumstances that require certainty and stability, and pointed out multiple times that he and his department rely on the valuable information and experience that betting operators and gaming providers share in order to inform and guide the White Paper. He expressed his hopes that all parties involved in betting and gaming in the United Kingdom will continue to be involved after the publication of the White Paper, and will contribute extensively in order to facilitate the implementation of any potential changes.

Scully explained that the White Paper will not be the new UK gambling law. Instead, the White Paper will be followed by consultations conducted by the Department of Culture, Media, and Sport and the Gambling Commission. These consultations will be essential for refining, finalising, and implementing the new policies arising from the White Paper.

Scully said:

“The millions of customers who engage with your businesses every month are for the most part choosing to spend their money on a leisure product they enjoy, and the majority suffer no ill effect. It’s important not to discount the social and entertainment benefits to customers when we think about gambling policy.”

One of the areas of considerable interest in recent months which will feature extensively in the White Paper is the so-called “affordability checks”. Scully clarified that, in his opinion, these would be more aptly named financial risk checks. He explained that the Government and the Gambling Commission do not have the right to decide how much someone can afford to bet, and that the aim of these checks will be to help betting sites carry out suitable checks based on all the information they hold for a customer in order to establish if there is any indication that this customer is at risk of gambling harm. Scully pointed out that these checks will not rely on a “one size fits all approach” and will instead work with identified risk factors in order to protect customers. Such factors include vulnerabilities such as bankruptcy, risky behaviours such as spending binges, and regular behaviours such as high sustained losses over longer periods of time.

According to Scully, the whole point of the White Paper is to review outdated practices which no longer do what they were intended to do, and replace them with modern rules and regulations which will safeguard customers against gambling harm by implementing controls that are not unnecessary restrictive and that make the experience better, easier, and more enjoyable for the customers and benefit the betting sites as well.

Saying that the White Paper is only a few weeks away, Scully encouraged betting providers to continue to engage with the government, stating that the relationship between the industry and the regulators does not have to be antagonistic. We will continue to follow the developments around the White Paper with interest and will report any relevant information on our website – please come back for more news.

About the author

Carl Hughes

Editor

Carl Hughes

Editor

Carl Hughes is a leading expert on sports and casino betting. Carl began his career with a BSc in Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences from the University of Birmingham before working within the industry for some of the bigger names (GVC and Bet365) and has been praised as being "a leading sports betting commentator".