A “life and death” inquiry into current gambling law in the UK has been postponed until next year, drawing criticism from MPs.
Sarah Healey, the top civil servant at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has told the Commons Public Accounts Committee that the Government’s review, promised in the Conservative Party’s manifesto last year, is not ready.
While the inquiry was set to begin this month, Healy said: “I’m not able to give a firm timeline, we will seek to publish it as soon as possible. I would not expect to see it imminently.”
Labour MP Carolyn Harris, chairwoman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm, expressed her concern at delays occurring so early in the review process.
She said: “The virus is not an excuse – getting this review under way now will be a matter of life and death for hundreds of families.”
A report from the House of Lords published in July estimated that around 340,000 adults in the UK are addicted to gambling, with an average of two addicts taking their own lives every working day.
Conservative MP Richard Holden said: “The fact that the most senior civil servant in the culture department now seems to be backing away from getting the gambling review kicked off is very worrying.”
One of the expected changes in the review was the closing of a loophole allowing children to gamble hundreds of pounds a week on the National Lottery’s website.
Currently, children as young as 16 could be spending up to £350 a week on online games.