Cabinet reshuffle sees major changes at DCMS relevant to the gambling sector

In a wide-ranging Cabinet reshuffle, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has:

  • promoted Nadine Dorries (MP for Mid-Bedfordshire) as the new Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in place of Oliver Dowden, who has been appointed  Chairman of the Conservative Party, but will also remain in the Cabinet as Minister Without Portfolio, and
  • removed John Whittingdale from his position as DCMS Minister for Media and Data (with ministerial responsibility for lotteries and gambling), a position that he took up as recently as 2 March this year as reported by us here.

When Whittingdale was given ministerial responsibility for gambling and lotteries, it was described by some as a ‘boost for the gambling industry’. Just as that was an over-simplification, the same could be said of any suggestion that his departure is a ‘disaster for the industry’. Five of Whittingdale’s six months as Minister have post-dated the end of the Government’s Call for Evidence in relation to the Gambling Act Review, with a distinct likelihood that decisions have now already been made on what will be the key issues within the forthcoming White Paper when it is published before the end of this year. In some ways, it may improve the level of debate between opposing sides if the new Minister, once appointed, is generally perceived as being ‘neutral’ on the issue of gambling reform.

In a similar vein, it is already being suggested that the new Secretary of State, Nadine Dorries, has generally voted against greater regulation of gambling. In our opinion it would be wrong to read too much into this either. It should surely be borne in mind that both the Gambling Related Harm APPG and Peers for Gambling Reform enjoy strong cross-party support.

UPDATES:

1. The Betting and Gaming Council has welcomed Nadine Dorries as the new Secretary of State and says it is “vital” that the Government’s ongoing Gambling Review must continue to be an “evidence-led” process. It states as follows on its website:

Standards body the Betting and Gaming Council has congratulated Nadine Dorries on becoming the new Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said Ms Dorries’s appointment to the Cabinet was “well-deserved” and added it was “vital” that the Government’s ongoing Gambling Review must continue to be an “evidence-led” process.

Mr Dugher also paid tribute to outgoing Secretary of State, Oliver Dowden, as well as John Whittingdale, the minister who had been leading the Gambling Review and who has now returned to the backbenches.

Departmental responsibilities in the DCMS have yet to be finalised, so the BGC is awaiting details on who will head up the Review following Mr Whittingdale’s departure.

Michael Dugher said:

“On behalf of the 119,000 people whose jobs are supported by our members – from the high street to hospitality, from tourism to tech – I’d like to congratulate Nadine Dorries on her well-deserved promotion as Secretary of State for DCMS.

This is an important time for our industry, which generates £4.5bn in taxes for the Treasury and contributes £7.7bn for the economy in gross value added.

We have been working extremely closely with the DCMS over very many months to help the Government find the right balance in the Gambling Review, so that we continue to drive big changes and higher standards on safer gambling to better protect the most vulnerable, whilst at the same time ensuring that the millions of people who enjoy an occasional flutter perfectly safely and responsibly have the freedom to do so. It is vital the Government continues with it’s evidence-led approach.

We also want to play our part in helping Britain to build back better from the pandemic, as shown by our support for the Government’s Plan For Jobs.

I’d also like to pay tribute to John Whittingdale, the outgoing minister who was leading on the Review, for his willingness to engage with the industry. I’d like to thank the outgoing Secretary of State, Oliver Dowden, for his support, especially when so much of our sector was closed during the Covid lockdowns. I wish Oliver all the very best in his new important role at the Cabinet Office.”

2. On 22 September 2021, Chris Philp MP was named as the new Gambling Minister, replacing John Whittingdale. His responsibilities will include the Government’s ongoing Review of the Gambling Act 2005.

Betting and Gaming Council chief executive Michael Dugher has welcomed his appointment, stating in politicshome.com:

On behalf of the 119,000 people whose jobs are supported by BGC members, I welcome Chris Philp as the new minister responsible for gambling. He comes to the brief with an excellent reputation as a talented and extremely capable minister.

We have made excellent progress working towards the Gambling Review white paper and we are sure that the Government will not wish to lose momentum

BGC members generate £4.5bn in taxes to help pay for our public services and contribute £7.7bn to the economy in gross value added, so it’s vitally important that the Government continues with the evidence-led approach it has taken to the Review until now.

We have also pledged our support for the Government’s Plan For Jobs, with our members announcing that they will create 5,000 apprenticeships by 2025.

I look forward to working with Chris in the months ahead as the BGC continues to drive big changes and higher standards on safer gambling, ensuring we get the balance right between protecting the vulnerable while ensuring that the millions who enjoy a flutter safely and responsibly have the freedom to do so.

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