Christian public policy charity CARE has said a further day to vital gambling reform plans is "inexcusable" and will cause "untold grief".
On Thursday night, it emerged that a whitepaper on gambling reform will now not be published due to the unplanned leadership contest in the Conservative Party.
According to The Guardian, the document was ready to be signed off before Mr Boris Johnson's resignation. Officials now advise waiting for the new PM to be in post, which will most likely be in September.
The delay is the fourth since 2020, when a review of gambling laws was ordered by government, given gambling-related harms.
Tim Cairns, senior policy officer at CARE, which has spearheaded calls for reform of gambling laws across the UK, commented:
"A further delay to the publication of the long-awaited white paper on gambling reform is inexcusable. The paper was reportedly ready to be signed off and was a culmination of many months of work and consultation with experts and campaigners. There is a democratic and a moral case for green lighting this proposal, and finally allowing parliamentarians to get to grips with it.
"Every day in the UK a person takes their own life because of gambling-related harm. Delaying reform will only causes more, untold grief. Given reports that key reforms, such as an industry levy, were to be dropped from the whitepaper, any new Conservative leader coming into office must ask whose side they are on. Will fight to help the vulnerable? Or side with the gambling industry?
"Reform needs to be comprehensive. Curbs need to be placed on advertising, on the relationship between gambling and sport, and measures are needed to ensure children are kept safe. Given the cost to society of gambling-related harm, a meaningful statutory levy needs to be put in place. The industry should be forced to pay for the harm it creates, not the NHS and taxpayers."
The Gambling Commission's most recent survey on gambling participation found that, in the year to June 2021, overall participation in any gambling activity was 42 per cent.
The Government has estimated that there are 400,000 "problem gamblers" in England, with a further 2 million people at risk of developing a problem.
Public Health England has called for gambling-related harm to be considered as a public health issue.