Insights Gambling Act Review – the legislative process from hereon in

As the gambling industry convenes in London for ICE week, much of the talk of the town will be the pending White Paper, due imminently as the next stage in the process to overhaul British gambling legislation. But, what is a “White Paper” and what happens then in the process?

Gambling Review

It was announced by Chris Philp, the Minister currently responsible for gambling, at the end of March 2022 that the White Paper on reforming the Gambling Act 2005 is in the process of being finalised, with its publication “imminent”.

The review of the Gambling Act 2005 was first launched by the government in December 2020 and the call for evidence closed on 31 March 2021. The government has been considering the submissions provided since then and the White Paper, setting out its proposals for change, was initially expected at the end of 2021. This was postponed to early 2022 and now May 2022, in part due to a cabinet reshuffle which saw the previous gambling minister John Whittingdale replaced by Chris Philp.

See below for an explanation of what a ‘White Paper’ actually is and the process that this ‘White Paper’ will have to go through before any of the proposals contained in it become law.

White Papers

White papers are policy documents produced by the Government that set out their proposals for future legislation. White papers are often published as ‘Command papers’ which may include a draft version of a Bill that is being planned. Command papers are government papers that are presented to Parliament. They convey information or decisions that the government thinks should be drawn to the attention of one or both Houses of Parliament.

This procedure provides an opportunity for consultation with interested groups and allows changes to be made before a Bill is formally presented to Parliament.

Whilst not technically mandatory for the government to present the White Paper for prior consultation, it has become standard practice and will be expected by interested groups.

Draft Bill

After this consultation stage, a draft Bill will be issued for consultation before being formally introduced to Parliament. Almost all draft Bills are Government Bills. Government departments produce draft Bills and issue them to interested parties. This allows changes to be proposed, discussed and made before the Bill’s formal introduction to Parliament. The practice of publishing draft Bills has become more frequent in recent years. It allows examination and amendments to be made to texts outside of valuable Parliamentary time.

After a draft Bill is introduced to Parliament the following process applies:

Introduction to Parliament

First reading (Commons)

A formality – takes place without debate.

Second reading (Commons)

First opportunity for MPs to debate the key principles and main purpose of a bill and to flag up any concerns or specific areas where they think amendments (changes) are needed.

Committee stage (Commons)

Detailed in next section.

Report stage (Commons)

The House considers further amendments.

Third reading (Commons)

Third reading is the final chance for the Commons to debate the contents of a Bill.

First reading (Lords)

A formality – takes place without debate.

Second reading (Lords)

Second reading is the first opportunity for members of the Lords to debate the key principles and main purpose of a bill and to flag up any concerns or specific areas where they think amendments (changes) are needed.

Committee stage (Lords)

Detailed in next section.

Report stage (Lords)

Report stage gives all members of the Lords a further opportunity to examine and make amendments to a bill.

Third reading (Lords)

Sometimes further amendments are made.

Consideration of amendments

Bill is returned to the Commons for the Lords’ amendments to be considered. Both Houses must agree on amendments. A Bill may go back and forth until both Houses reach agreement.

Royal Assent

The Bill is signed by the Queen – what is called ‘royal assent’ – and passes into law as an Act of Parliament.

Committee stage

Once draft Bills have been submitted to Parliament, they are examined by a Select Committee or a Public Bill Committee. These committees are only made up of MPs. However as part of their scrutiny of the Bill they can receive written evidence from outside organisations and members of the public, and take oral evidence from interested parties. A call for evidence is displayed on the Parliament website when a Committee is accepting evidence.

In terms of oral evidence, this begins with the relevant Minister(s) and Departmental officials, but further witnesses may also be called, in a programme which will be agreed by the Committee at its first meeting. These are likely to include related agencies, interested non-governmental organisations and lobby groups and even individuals with an interest.

Once the Committee has sat for the last time, no more evidence can be received. The written evidence that the Committee decides to publish will be available on the internet as soon as possible after the Committee has started sitting and will also be printed in hard copy at the end of the Committee’s deliberations.

After the Committee has taken oral evidence, it goes through the Bill, debating each clause of the Bill and any amendments proposed to the text. Once the Committee has gone through the Bill, it reports the Bill – in its amended form, if changes have been made – back to the House.


After the White Paper in relation to gambling is published, there will be the opportunity to provide feedback on it, as well as on the draft Bill that will follow. In addition, there could be an opportunity to provide evidence at the Committee stage while the formally proposed Bill is making its way through Parliament.

The Government is receiving increasing pressure from lobbying groups due to the multiple delays this process has experienced. As mentioned at the head of this note, the publication of the White Paper is now expected around May 2022.