As of Monday, Matthew Hancock was promoted to the position of Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). His appointment could have positive impact for the UK racing industry, as Mr. Hancock himself is known as one of the most loyal supporters of local sports betting industry.
The 39-year-old Matt Hancock is to now head the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, after taking over the position from Karen Bradley following the latter’s appointment as the new secretary of Northern Ireland. His responsibilities will now not only include the British horseracing industry, but also the local gambling industry as a whole, including the completion of the levy reform.
Mr. Hancock already has an experience within the culture department as a junior minister. Now, he is to be provided with more thorough functions at a time when the UK gambling industry has some important issues to take care of, including the afore-mentioned levy reform and the fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) crackdown.
According to Rachel Hood, the ex president of the Racehorse Owners Association, the appointment of Hancock as DCMS’ Secretary would help the racing industry in its efforts to implement the levy reforms which were instituted by the UK Government in 2017.
More than half a decade ago, the new Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport who is known for one of the biggest parliamentary supporters of sports, introduced the Offshore Gambling Bill. The latter, which is a private members’ bill, included the intention to make certain amendments in the Gambling Act of 2005 in order to make sure that all companies which had been operating in the country were to make contributions to the Horserace Betting Levy. Despite the fact that the bill was not turned into law at the time Mr. Hancock introduced it, his interest in sports is expected to have influence on future DCMS decisions in terms on the gambling landscape in the country.
Possible Impact of the Appointment
The appointment of Mr. Hancock as head of the DCMS comes at a moment when the Department is having consultations on the second stage of the levy reforms of the UK Government, which is expected to end up with the Levy Board abolition.
What is more, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is also the authority which has been engaged with the Government’s review of the local gambling industry and the consultations related to it. The upcoming FOBTs crackdown is also within the powers of the Department. As previously reported by Casino Guardian, the Government has been engaged with close monitoring of the country’s gambling sector, with much attention being paid at controversial fixed-odds betting machines, which will possibly see a reduction of their maximum stakes allowed.
Currently, the maximum stake which is available at local fixed-odds betting terminals amounts to £100, with players being able to place the amount every 20 seconds. However, the devastating impact that FOBTs could have on players’ lives and gambling addictions which they are related to, have raised a lot of concerns among country’s gambling authorities and non-profit organisations which are aimed at helping players suffering from problem gambling behaviour.
Now, the appointment of Mr. Hancock to the position undoubtedly raises some questions related to the results of the expected FOBTs crackdown consultations. For the time being, he was welcomed to the position by the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB).