Although not confirmed officially by parliamentary sources, it is believed that the new gambling minister has been appointment in the wake of the mass exodus in Boris Johnson’s cabinet.
The rumour mill is suggesting that Damian Collins, the MP for Folkestone and Hythe in Kent, will step into the breach left by the resignation of Chris Philp.
Collins, who has held his seat for 12 years, is currently involved in overseeing the Draft Online Safety Bill, a new piece of legislation designed to tackle social media trolling and harmful content on the internet.
That forms part of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, of which Collins is a chair and via which the role of gambling minister is a part.
Ironically, the 48-year-old gets his chance amid the chaos that unfolded amid the former prime minister’s demise – Collins had supported Johnson when he was put to a vote of confidence in June.
Philp was one of 58 ministers and political figures that resigned in protest at Boris’s leadership, and came a matter of hours before the White Paper examining the gambling industry in the UK was set to be published.
The publication, which was set to outline changes to the gambling industry that could include maximum stakes for some online casino games and player affordability checks, will now surely be delayed until later in the summer as the battle for Conservative party leadership unfolds.
Whether Collins has all the answers to the UK gambling sector’s woes remains to be seen, but he certainly proved up to the questioning of Jeremy Paxman on University Challenge back in 1994-95 as the captain of Oxfordshire’s St Benet’s Hall.
He replaced Tory stalwart Michael Howard as the Folkestone and Hythe MP in 2010, and has won a number of local election battles since.
In stark contrast to many in his party, Collins actually voted for the UK to remain in the European Union as part of the Brexit referendum, although he told his constituency that he would support the result no matter which way the electorate voted.
A member of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee since 2010, Collins notably has a few close contacts within the gambling sector. The Gamesys Group, the casino software outfit acquired by Bally’s in 2021, paid a cool £1,500 for the MP to enjoy a nice day out at the England vs Czech Republic game at Euro 2020 last summer.
Collins also enjoyed free tickets to watch the Open Championship golf in 2021 courtesy of the R&A, and was gifted comp tickets, a dinner and a gift bag worth around £1,000 by Channel 4 when attending the BAFTA Awards earlier this year.
As if he hadn’t enjoyed enough freebies, Collins also enjoyed free accommodation (worth £750) at the Hay Literary Festival courtesy of Sky.
Quick to take, let’s hope that Collins is as forthcoming when it comes to giving back – he has, according to TheyWorkForYou, consistently voted against the greater regulation of the UK gambling sector, which will be music to the ears of the industry’s stakeholders in a time of great uncertainty.