The UK Government’s repeated failure to release its White Paper on gambling reform has left stakeholders in perpetual limbo. With numerous rumours circulating about potential changes, the lack of clarity from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Cabinet has only added to the confusion.
A source recently revealed the changes being considered could result in losses amounting to nine figures for the industry. According to The Sun Newspaper, the White Paper could be published by the end of April 2023, citing significant reforms leading to a 3% to 8% decline in the sector’s gross gambling yield (GGY).
A letter drafted by Luci Frazer, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, stated more restrictive measures could lead to Gross Gambling Yield (GGY) losses of up to £1.1 billion. Her department is currently overseeing the potential reforms to the gambling sector. Frazer believes the positive social outcomes resulting from regulatory changes regarding issues associated with gambling-related harm, would justify the expected decline in revenue.
Analysts have suggested the potential £1.1 billion GGY loss would only materialise if all gambling spending, including lotteries, is considered. Amongst all gambling services, lottery products currently have the highest GGY, as indicated by data from Germany-based firm Statista.
One of the areas that may be affected by the government’s proposed changes is the UK’s horse racing industry, which is currently among the largest and most successful globally. Rumours suggest funding could be secured for the sport through the implementation of a new tax, a proposal that has been welcomed by horse racing leaders. However, the industry could also be negatively impacted by certain regulatory changes, such as controversial affordability checks, potentially causing a decline in GGY.
A recent report conducted by Public Health England indicated factors like income, employment, and relative deprivation are not statistically associated with the risks of gambling and gambling-related harms. Instead, demographic factors appear to be more significant in predicting reckless behaviour and these may be more of a risk to gamblers.
Despite missing previous deadlines, the UK Government remains committed to reducing the country’s gambling addiction rate, which stands at a relatively low 0.2%, according to the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). The exact changes to be included in the White Paper remain uncertain, with some analysts speculating that the final reforms may reflect many effects sought by the legal gambling industry.
Changes to the White Paper are still unclear and based on speculation. However, while the reforms may not be as drastic as anti-gambling campaigners have demanded, they could still cost the industry over £1.1 billion per year. With the government’s determination to address gambling addiction, stakeholders in the UK gambling industry must brace themselves for an uncertain future.