With Brexit still creating uncertainty for UK business and election manifestos clashing daily on industry affairs, former DCMS secretary and MP candidate for Malden, John Whittingdale, took to the Bacta AGM stage to outline the potential future of amusements in the tumultuous political landscape.
Taking a break from campaigning ahead of the December 12 election, former DCMS secretary John Whittingdale stepped up to the mic at the Bacta AGM recently to discuss Brexit, online gaming and the limitations of the 2005 Gambling Act.
Cosying up to the audience, the canny MP described the appearance as “intensive canvassing” for his two constituents in the audience – Steve Hawkins and Greg Wood. But the candidate for Malden had another important canvas on his mind: the one where the future of gambling and amusements in the UK will soon be painted. And he had a direct question to pose: “is it time for a new act?”
“Gambling doesn’t always get the attention it deserves, unless it is negative,” said Whittingdale. “What needs to be said more by ministers is that gambling is an incredibly important industry in this country which gives pleasure to vast numbers of people, most of whom do it without any detrimental effect at all.”
Though noting a new act “won’t be a priority of government,” Whittingdale urged Bacta to enter discussion with Ben Dean, former Principal Private Secretary and now DCMS director for sport and gambling, advising that “he will be extremely influential in the development of policy.”
“The other area which is growing and we have begun to address is the issue of remote gambling. If you go back to 2005, it’s difficult to conceive now, but the internet barely existed. The concept of online gambling hadn’t begun, therefore the act didn’t address the challenge.”
Sharing concerns with many Bacta members over online age verification, Whittingdale noted that – though the 2015 and 2017 Conservative policy to limit access to hardcore pornography eventually became part of the wider Online Harms white paper – “the technology is there” to impose effective online age checks.
“A great deal of time was spent developing mechanisms for age verification, with the idea that operators would be required to put these in place. There is a very strong case for requiring remote gamblers to impose age verification. I think there will be further attention there.”
However, Whittingdale observed that what will require further attention immediately is the UK’s relationship with the EU, stating Brexit “has paralysed parliament.”
Though optimistic about the upcoming January deadline, Whittingdale added “the interesting thing is what happens next, and that is a very big issue.”
“We need to get an alternative arrangement, a trading agreement with Europe, as well as all the other countries, but we have said whilst we are negotiating we will continue to comply with EU obligations, the only difference is that we won’t have a voice.”
“That is only acceptable to us on the basis that it is for a limited period, to allow us to get a new deal, and that limited period will end at the end of next year, so we have literally twelve months in order to get a new agreement. It will be challenging, but I think it is possible.”
This article was originally published on www.coinslot.co.uk