As of today, 13th December, the Conservatives have won the UK General Election and will take the reins of power. So we thought it would be a good idea to see what the political parties have in mind for our industry.
All three major political parties put forth some ideas for reform of the online gambling sector. In this article, we explore what each promise means, and what we are likely to see with a new majority Conservative government. The Conservatives were last to launch their manifesto, in a strategy that was ultimately very successful.
The first thing to note is that despite the fact that both the Labour and Liberal Democrat manifestos clock in at over 100 pages each, neither dedicates more than a paragraph to the gambling sector. The Tory manifesto is shorter at 64 pages, but an equal amount of space is spent on Gambling.
Despite these fleeting mentions, all parties declared their directions of travel which suggest a move to further regulation and more governmental support for problem gamblers.
The Labour manifesto, apart from a brief statement about problem gaming being made a “matter of public health” issued the following paragraph…
“A Labour government will curb gambling advertising in sports and introduce a new Gambling Act fit for the digital age, establishing gambling limits, a levy for problem gambling funding and mechanisms for consumer compensations.”
Though a short statement, we can glean a couple of crucial points. First, the intention to create a “Gambling Act fit for the digital age” suggests recognition that the original 2005 act is no longer fit for purpose in the internet era. Second, the establishing of “gambling limits” in context of the previous statement suggests that there will be caps on what players can gamble online. This is not yet enforced as things currently stand.
In the Liberal Democrats Manifesto, there is more concrete policy detail, even if the section is still brief. After outlining the scale of problem gambling in the United Kingdom, they offer a four point plan:
“Introduce a compulsory levy on gambling companies to fund research, education and treatment of problem gambling.
Ban the use of credit cards for gambling.
Restrict gambling advertising.
Establish a Gambling Ombudsman.”
The specific mention of a credit card ban, though not yet in force, is considered to be broadly in the direction that even the previous Conservative government is moving towards.
The Conservative offer two brief passages on the future of the industry; the first is impossibly short. It reads: “We will continue to take action to tackle gambling addiction.” A vague but noble intention.
Later in the document, they intend to make the UK a safe place to browse the internet. They describe the 2005 Gambling Act, which opened up the online gaming world, as “increasingly becoming an analogue law in an internet age.”
In particular, they say, they will look to review “issues around loot boxes and credit card misuse.” Not quite as clear as the Liberal Democrat manifesto, but certainly pointing in the same direction.
Now that we know the winners, we have an idea of where we’re going as an industry. But all is not crystal clear. The next five years will prove very interesting indeed.