Iain Duncan Smith declares ‘war’ on government if gambling reforms are watered down
The former Tory leader who was blasted says a mandatory levy on betting companies – and plans to ban bookmakers’ logos from Premier League football shirts – is left out in a long-awaited white paper
A Tory grandee has vowed to declare ‘war’ on the government if a long-awaited review of gambling laws is watered down.
A mandatory “polluter payer” levy on bookmakers to fund addiction treatment and research will reportedly be left out in a white paper next month.
It could also stop forcing Premier League clubs to remove betting ads from players’ shirts The Sunday Times reported.
Sources familiar with the talks told the No. 10 newspaper they would likely support larger voluntary contributions to avoid further taxes on the industry.
They also claimed the government hopes to reach an agreement with Premier League clubs to remove the names of betting sponsors from their shirts.
But ex-Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith told the newspaper: “I will go to war with the government over this.
“The evidence on the harm that gambling can cause is clear. I will not compromise on the delivery.”
Labor MP Carolyn Harris, leader of the all-party parliamentary group on gambling harms, told the Mirror: “I am beyond disappointed.
“If that’s true, you missed a fantastic opportunity to completely change the gaming environment and protect those who need our help.”
She suggested there could be a repeat of the last major revolt over fixed-odds betting machines – nearly derailing the 2018 budget.
She said: “We have done it before and we can mobilize support to ensure we go to war against the government.
“We must not allow this to continue.”
A review of the 2005 Gambling Act began in 2020 and is due to report shortly. The ministers promised it in “the coming weeks” at the end of March.
The review said Tory ministers would “look for evidence of the positive and negative outcomes” of betting company logos appearing on football shirts.
They would also consider a statutory levy to fund addiction treatment if the current voluntary system could not provide the funds needed.
The Social Market Foundation think tank has argued that “the current voluntary funding system lacks consistency, transparency and accountability”.
But the review by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) sparked heavy lobbying from the gaming industry.
The Betting and Gaming Council highlighted figures showing that problem gambling has dropped to 0.2% of the population, with 22.5 million bets placed each month.
Chief Executive Michael Dugher said the review was an “important opportunity to continue raising standards”. But he said earlier this month: “A small but vocal anti-gambling lobby is calling for draconian restrictions on an activity it doesn’t approve of.”
Estimates released by the government in September say that 409 suicides a year in England are “linked to problem gambling”.
They also suggested that there were “212,511 people with depression and problematic or at-risk gambling.”
The combined cost of this suicide and depression to the economy in England has been estimated at more than £950m a year.
Matt Zarb-Cousin of Clean Up Gambling Group said: “The only reason this gambling review came about was to address problems caused by an online gambling sector unwilling to voluntarily mitigate harm.
“If both treatment levy and advertising restrictions were left to voluntary regulations, then this two-year review would have been a waste of time.
“The government should listen to the evidence of leading clinicians and introduce an independently administered statutory levy and end the promotion of gambling in football.”
A DCMS spokesman said: “We are conducting the most comprehensive review of gambling laws in 15 years to ensure they are fit for the digital age. We will publish a white paper…in the coming weeks.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/iain-duncan-smith-declares-war-27094485 Iain Duncan Smith declares 'war' on government if gambling reforms are watered down