The Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sports (DCMS) has appointed Helen Whately as the new minister tasked to oversee the British gambling industry. Whately is a member of Parliament for Faversham and Mid Kent.
This is the third ministerial appointment to have been made in less than a year, after former Sports Minister Tracey Crouch resigned in protest of the UK Treasury attempts to postpone implementation of stricter regulation covering fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs). This led to the appointment of Mims Davies MP as the new Sports Minister.
This time, Whately is taking the place of Rebecca Pow, who was just appointed in July after Boris Johnson got into the Prime Minister’s office. Pow will now be with the Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). As new Gambling Minister, Whately will be tasked to oversee lotteries, cultural property, libraries, museums, art, tourism, cultural diplomacy, and public appointments.
Whately’s appointment came as part of the Conservative government’s reshuffling of departments and personnel, resulting from the expulsion of 21 of its MPs as well as the resignation of several senior cabinet members.
Things in the UK gambling sector have been quite dynamic recently. Besides the fact that this was the third appointment in less than twelve months, preparations for the upcoming Brexit have also caused a significant amount of turbulence in the gambling sector. The sector is expected to be severely affected by the UK’s exit from the European Union, since that just might effectively break the ties that the sector had with a lot of overseas gambling operators.
These developments have all created uncertainty across the UK gambling industry, especially in light of other things that have been happening in recent years. For one thing, tougher rules have been rolled out for all gambling companies offering their products and services within UK territory. Because of these new rules, several companies have suffered record fines. Despite the huge penalties that have been imposed on gambling operators, though, some anti-gambling campaigners still say those penalties are far from enough.
There have reportedly been more than 160 regulatory and criminal investigations conducted in 2018, along with around 2,000 intelligence reports. Still, tension in the UK gambling sector has been on the rise. It certainly looks like Whately is in for quite a tough run as minister, but she remains positive and happy about her appointment. “It’s a huge honor to have been appointed Minister for the Arts, Heritage, and Tourism,” Whately said. “I have lost count of the number of people who have told me I have the best job in government.”
Whately has had several roles in Parliament since she became an MP in 2015. She has served on the health select committee and was also responsible for setting up the all-party group for the country’s fruit and vegetable farmers. Additionally, she was Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party before being appointed to her current role. Nigel Adams will serve as Sports Minister, supporting Whately in overseeing both the UK gambling and horseracing sectors.