It comes as a surprise that one of the most influential All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) appears to be winding down its activities rather than ramping them up in preparation for the current review of the 2005 Gambling Act.
The news comes from Group Secretariat of the Betting and Gaming APPG, Steve Donoughue, who has announced that he is stepping down from his role after a new Chair was appointed late last week.
The email that Mr Donoughue sent to members of the APPG stated that he would be closing down the group’s website following his resignation. He states that his resignation is due to his role being “at the behest of the Chair” which, according to the new post holder, is “no longer required”.
It appears that Laurence Robertson MP wishes to severely restrict the group’s activities, and has already decided that its industry seminars will be terminated.
After thanking and acknowledging the APBGG’s previous chairs and vice-chairs who have included Philip Davies MP, Lord Lipsey, and Baroness Golding, which he says have had a “hugely influential impact on gambling policy”, Mr Donoughue issued a warning that the gambling sector will suffer without “an independent and critical” forum. He added that the group appears to be coming to an end just when “its expertise [is] needed the most” in reference to the Government’s review of UK gambling laws and current concerns about customers turning to black-market operators.
Mr Donoughue believes that Laurence Robertson’s appointment as the group’s new chair “goes against the very nature of what the group was set up to be” as he is a paid advisor of the Betting and Gaming Council.
There is also another gambling-related APPG which is tasked with looking at gambling harms and chaired by the Labour MP, Carolyn Harris. However, Steve Donoghue has likened the new direction of the APBGG to that of the APPG on Gambling Harms, saying that it merely acts as “a mouthpiece for its funders”.