Written by Jon Bryan | Expected reading time 6 minutes

Last Updated: June 14, 2024

Jon Bryan writing for SlotsHawk.com

Written by Jon Bryan

Whatever happens in the general election, the next parliament will have new campaigners in the field of gambling reform, as well as one or two ‘old hands’. Jon Bryan looks at who might be in, who might be out, and what we could expect from the next batch of politicians in the House of Commons.


After July 4th, we will have a new government. We will also have a new crop of MPs. That’s important for lots of reasons, but when it comes to an issue like gambling – which is often not impacted by party affiliation – it’s useful to know who’s going to be in the corridors of power speaking about this issue in the coming years. Let’s have a look at what might happen when the public get voting in a few weeks’ time, and what impact it could have on the debates around gambling in Westminster.


Of course, not everyone who speaks about gambling in parliament is up for election. Those in the House of Lords have a seat for life, and many of them I would put firmly in the ‘anti-gambling’ category, such as Lord Foster of Bath, who never tires of calling for more restrictions on gambling, and recently continued his crusade against gambling advertising and marketing. Others, amongst the 150 ‘Peers for Gambling Reform’, include Lord Bishop of St Albans, who seems to have a particular problem with everything that the gambling industry does, but still thinks (despite all bad that they do) that they should fund treatment of gambling harm.

However, there is at least one voice in the House of Lords who has challenged the dominant narrative on gambling, which so often treats gamblers and the public in a condescending way. Baroness Fox of Buckley has previously spoken about her unease with new gambling legislation, in a speech described by one person as ‘by far the calmest, most measured, sensible and balanced’ they had heard.

Jon Bryan with Baroness Fox

Let’s hope anyone newly appointed to the House of Lords after the general election will also question the mainstream view of gambling, that often goes unchallenged in the media.


So, what about the MPs who are up for election? What can we expect after the dust settles and the electorate have had their say? We know that some of those elected will have strong views on gambling which they will want to take forward. They will either want to try and reduce the level of gambling, or (hopefully!) they will want to stand up for those of us who enjoy the fun and thrill of having a bet.

Many of the current politicians who talk about gambling are well known to us, but with such a high turnover of MPs expected, and particularly if Starmer’s Labour Party win a huge landslide, it’s worth starting to consider what changes are in store.


Paul Scully, a previous Minister with responsibility for Gambling is not standing again, and we thought that was also going to be the case with the current Gambling Minister, Stuart Andrew, which I reported on previously here. Only announced with three weeks until polling day, he is once again standing to be an MP, which I cover later in this article.

Other MPs who have strong views about gambling and/or Horse Racing, will also no longer be heard talking in parliament about these issues, including Matt Hancock (who recently spoke passionately about defending the horse racing industry) and Conor McGinn, who’s brilliant speech on gambling earlier this year received great plaudits from punters.


Ronnie Cowan, the SNP candidate for Inverclyde & Renfrewshire West, and regular advocate of gambling restrictions, may well lose his seat if the swing from the SNP towards Labour in Scotland goes as predicted. A consistent opponent of gambling adverts, he has been part of All-Party Parliamentary Groups favouring increased restrictions on gamblers. Previous Gambling Ministers (and remember there were a lot of them over the last few years!) are also at risk of losing their seats, including Chris Philp and Damian Collins.


Carolyn Harris and Iain Duncan-Smith are two campaigning politicians with a definite anti-gambling slant. If re-elected, they will no doubt continue to champion measures aimed at reducing what gamblers can do. For what it is worth, my money is on both being re-elected. Duncan-Smith may benefit from the well-publicised ejection of Faiza Shaheen from the Labour Party, who is now standing as an Independent candidate in his constituency. That will split the ‘Anyone but IDS’ vote, probably helping him to retain his seat, and negating a likely big national swing to the Labour Party.

There is bound to be some attention on Philip Davies, who has been the MP for Shipley since 2005. He has constantly spoken up for the gambling public and attracted attention for being frank with his opinions on several issues. He has been an important voice in the House of Commons on gambling. If he loses his seat, debates on this issue without him will be worse for it. His is a voice that will be missed if he loses his seat, which is a possibility if you look at the seats that are vulnerable to change, according to current polling.

Having found himself a safe Tory seat hundreds of miles away from where he was first elected, Conservative Chairman Richard Holden looks like he is set to continue as an MP. His election in 2019, deep into the red wall, was a surprise for lots of people, and he soon made his illiberal views on gambling well known. Let’s see if he gets re-elected in his new seat and what his priorities in a new parliament will be.

And coming back into the contest (a late announcement!) to remain as an MP is the Gambling Minister, Stuart Andrew. Somehow, he has landed himself to be the Conservative candidate for Daventry, which has been a safe seat for the Tories for a very long time.

It’s difficult to know exactly how much of a change we are likely to see as MPs leave and are replaced. But there will be some characters that we currently associate with debates about gambling in Parliament who will have to pursue those arguments outside of Westminster, if they lose their seat on July 4th.


Well, if the polls are to be believed, there will certainly be an MP with a strong position on gambling, who has already attracted a lot of media attention. Standing to be the MP for Clacton, Nigel Farage is not a new voice to most people, but (if elected) it will be interesting to see how much time he spends tackling what he has called ‘Nanny State’ policies when it comes to gambling regulation.

There could be one or two other MPs with similarly strong views on this issue, if they manage to break the hold on parliament that the main parties have. I will personally be wishing a huge ‘Good Luck!’ to Hilary Salt from the SDP who is standing to be the MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East.

Battle of Ideas festival - Hilary Salt and Jon Bryan

She chaired a discussion on gambling that I spoke at in 2022, and she has previously spoken on a panel about problem gambling. We need people like her in the House of Commons, who can speak with knowledge and authority on these important issues.

With the Labour Party expected to win by a huge landslide, and with so many MPs being vetted by Starmer and his team, there is unlikely to be many with outspoken views on anything, let alone something like gambling. Some of them will have seen the Gambling with Lives stall at the Labour Party conference in 2022, and will perhaps feel quite comfortable arguing for restrictions, bans, and censorship.

These new MPs might hugely outnumber more experienced Labour MPs who have a better grasp of these issues, like Emma Lewell-Buck and Anna Turley. Both are expected to win their seats in the north-east and have previously shown good knowledge and understanding of the debates surrounding gambling reform.


I asked Andrew Woodman, from the Gamblers Consumers Forum (GCF), what we should expect from the new crop of MPs? ‘We await with interest’, he told me. With so many changes in personnel expected, he hoped we would see ‘more open minded and proactive debate on gambling policy, compared to what we saw in the last parliament’.

The Gamblers Consumers Forum

With many new faces being elected on July 4th, potentially with gaps in knowledge and expertise on complex areas like gambling reform, groups who speak up for the gambling public (like the GCF) are going to be a much-needed force, which Woodman recognises:

‘We stand ready to engage with the new Gambling Minister and MPs across the House’, he said, ‘to explain the crass nature of the current proposals being implemented’.

When it comes to tackling problems associated with gambling, the view from the GCF is that ‘harm markers are a far more effective alternative at identifying addiction and harm, than the illiberal measures that we see being implemented after last year’s Gambling White Paper.’ That’s one message I hope the GCF can get across to all MPs in the new parliament, in an area that can sometimes be clouded by untruths and emotion.

For my part, I just hope some of the new MPs elected have a liberal and open mindset, so we can start to turn back from the path we find ourselves on with gambling regulation. Sadly, judging from the current debates and hustings that I have seen so far in this election campaign, I won’t be betting much on that happening.

Jon Bryan is a Gambling Writer and Poker Player. His pamphlet “Risking It All: The freedom to gamble” is now available to purchase or free to download.. You can subscribe (for free) to his Substack:

Follow Jon on Twitter /X @JonBryanPoker