Last week, the UK government published its long-awaited White Paper on gambling, trailed as being the biggest shake up to gambling law in Great Britain for nearly 20 years.

Since the review of gambling laws was first announced in 2020, the White Paper has been delayed at least four times, and seen four Culture Secretaries. But it is finally here and its key focus will be to reform online betting in the age of the smartphone.  

However, as many commentators have already noted, the White Paper does not include proposed legal provisions on advertising or sponsorship.

Despite earlier rumblings that sports including football might have to wean themselves off the many millions of pounds of revenue provided by betting companies, in the form of advertising and sponsorship, the touted statutory reforms are notable by their absence.

This apparent change in direction follows the Premier League’s voluntary decision to ban gambling advertising from the front of clubs’ shirts from the end of the 2025/2026 season.  

However, the White Paper does include proposals for all major sports governing bodies to sign up to a cross-sport Code of Practice on gambling sponsorship.

It will be designed to improve standards where gambling sponsorship is prevalent in sport similar to what is in place in the alcohol industry.  

In addition, the government wants customers to have greater control over the types of marketing they receive, such as opting-in for online bonuses and offers for different types of gambling products. The Gambling Commission will consult on introducing such controls (one of many consultations linked to White Paper, which seems to hedge its bets in that way on a few issues). Also, it's worth remembering that the Online Advertising Programme will explore further mechanisms to reduce harm from advertising across all sectors.

The government also says that certain types of competitions and prize draws which offer significant prizes such as a luxury home or car now operate online in ways which could not have been foreseen in 2005. It intends to explore the potential for regulating competitions of this type to introduce appropriate controls around player protection and, where applicable, returns to good causes. Players will be pleased to know there's no chatter about introducing a tax on winnings.

The Betting and Gaming Council says it wants to see balanced, proportionate and effective reforms, while not spoiling the enjoyment of those who bet safely and responsibly.  They say around 22.5 million people bet each month in Britain.

After already waiting a long time for this White Paper, it seems that there will be further delay due to the planned consultations, so it is unlikely that we will see change for some time.

Read more about the other reforms here.