The UK gambling regulator, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has come under fire this week from a senior politician as the UK government gets its long awaited review of the 2005 Gambling Act underway. Leading Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith has repeated his call for the government to scrap the UKGC altogether as part of a major shakeup of the sector.
Writing the widely read news source Politics Home, Duncan Smith said that the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Gambling Related Harm, on which he serves, had been the only committee to keep up the pressure on the government to go through with its review of the gambling sector in the country, which he was happy to see:
“We have been calling for reform of our gambling laws for many years, and so I very much welcome the launch of the long-awaited gambling review published this week.”
Duncan Smith, who is a former leader of the Conservative Party said that APPG’s volume of first-hand accounts of how gambling addiction can ruin young peoples’ lives should form part of the DCMS inquiry. And, focusing on gambling’s current regulatory structures, he criticised the UKGC, accusing them of inaction, claiming that while the industry and its profits had grown exponentially, they had gained most of their money from those customers who were most addicted. According to Duncan Smith, around 60% of profits came from just 5 percent of UK gamblers.
The criticism is in the same vein as his comments at the start of the year, when he criticised the UKGC for its decision to consult with GVC Holdings on how the industry could develop new rules that applied to the treatment of high value customers.
Duncan Smith reiterated his belief that not only should the government review the UKGC, but should get rid of it altogether and set up a regulatory body that monitors the industry independently. Although all UK operators have agreed to restructure and audit their VIPs programmes, Duncan Smith says that all VIP customer schemes should be banned completely as he believes it represents a pernicious aspect of gambling that pushes players into high debt levels.
Concluding his comments, Duncan Smith told ministers that they had a duty not to hold back from undertaking radical reform that was needed to prevent gambling addiction from becoming our number one public health crisis. He urged the government to be clear, saying that industry needed a reset and should be made to understand its responsibilities.