According to the Sunday Times, the long-overdue White Paper on Gambling reforms will be publish on 17 April. The UK Press also reported that Prime Minister Sunak had “signed off on the release.”
This week’s announcement by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) about William Hill being fined a record of £19 million is viewed as a vital signal for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to publish the White Paper as a matter of urgency.
Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson cited the Ritchie Family and their campaign “Gambling with Lives” to raise awareness to gambling-related suicides. The Ritchie family are campaigning to reform the gambling industry in the UK. Charles and Liz Ritchie are the parents of deceased 24-year-old gambling addict Jack Ritchie. They established the charity Gambling with Lives following the death of their son. The couple are vigilantly campaigning for reform of the UK gambling law through their charity in order to support other bereaved families who have had a similar experience.
Jack started gambling when he was 17 and took his own life in November 2018. His family want the Government to speed up the publication of the White paper without any further delay. In their opinion law reforms could be”life-saving” and give a chance to those with an addiction. The Ritchies says that Jack started his gambling addiction when he was still at school and used money for his school meals to play fixed odds betting. They argue that this was the start of Jack’s undiagnosed gambling disorder and his life was at risk for a few years but he was not offered treatment. They add that the gambling laws are not tough enough to support individuals with gambling addictions. At Jack’s inquest, The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the Department for Health and Social Care and the Gambling Commission as well as the charities GambleAware and GamCare have been named as interested parties by the coroner.
Since the manifesto pledged by the Government in 2019 with proposals to reform the gambling sector, the White Paper reforms have been dealt with by more than 10 different ministers. Lord Lawson has been voicing his concerns for some time.
The Sunday Times article by Lord Lawson concluded on the importance of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak closing on the final outcome to regulate the UK gambling sector.
So, it is up to Sunak to do the decent thing. If he wants philosophical justification, he should read an essay by James Noyes recently published by the Social Market Foundation think tank, subtitled ‘The Conservative Case for Regulating Freedom in a Failed Market It points out that even Margaret Thatcher’s free-market hero Friedrich Hayek argued that gamblers’ debts were traditionally unenforceable and compared them to slavery. The smartphone is now their ball and chain.” – Lord Lawson, former Chancellor of the Exchequer
Nigel Lawson is a British retired Conservative Party politician and journalist. He served in the cabinet of Margaret Thatcher from 1981 to 1989. Prior to entering the Cabinet, he served as the Financial Secretary to the Treasury from May 1979 until his promotion to Secretary of State for Energy. He was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in June 1983, and served until his resignation in October 1989. In both Cabinet posts, Lawson was a key proponent of Thatcher’s policies of privatisation of several key industries. He refers to the current legislation of the less stringent regulations of gambling sector as a “foolish liberalisation by the Blair-Brown administration in 2005.”
Over the last few years there have been many rumours of an “imminent release” of the UK Gambling White Paper. The reforms have been discussed in detail for the last four years. One wonders whether the paper will be published this time around.
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