The new Tory Government and the gambling industry

Viktor Vangelov | Published 17 Dec 2019, 3:40 p.m.

The General Election is behind us and we are all familiar with the result. We will not get into what the Conservative landslide means for the Brexit process, for the UK in general, for the EU or for Ireland and the potential hard border between Ulster and the Republic, or the possible second Scottish referendum, we’re only concerned of the effect and impact it might have on gambling legislation, particularly when it comes to online gambling.

We already did a piece on the election and the possible effect it could have on gambling and gambling legislation. Gambling was generally portrayed in a negative light in most, if not all 2019 party manifestos. Now that we know the Conservatives won, we can have a clearer understanding of what we can expect in the next 5-year period, but more importantly in the most immediate future.

Iain Duncan Smith’s criticism of online gambling legislation

While Labour was a more staunchly anti-gambling party, the Tories weren’t too happy about the whole online gambling situation, i.e. the lack of regulation in terms of the maximum amount player can wager online.

Iain Duncan Smith, who is a prominent figure in the Tory party and a key ally of Boris Johnson, previously stated that he is outraged at the fact that there is no online gambling limit, similar to the limit imposed on land-based betting, i.e. FOBTs.

He went even further and said that he is surprised that gamblers are allowed to use credit cards online and that operators can offer bonuses and other incentives to vulnerable individuals and people who have gambling problem, without any sanctions.

You may wonder why we’re telling you this but bear in mind that Duncan Smith was the vicechair of the all-party parliamentary group that dealt with gambling related issues in the previous parliament. Moreover, knowing how close he is to Boris Johnson, we can expect him to play an important role in parliament, or even be named a minister in Johnson’s new government.

Analogue law in a digital age

In the Tory manifesto, which will be the basis for the upcoming Queen’s speech and the government programme, the current Gambling Act, which was passed by Blair’s government, is called an analogue law in a digital age.

The Tory party pledges to continue taking action to fight gambling addiction. Loot boxes and credit card gambling problems are the two other areas of gambling that are explicitly mentioned in the manifesto.

Still, we suspect that Brexit will be the first and foremost priority for Johnson’s government, so we are not likely to see any immediate changes any time soon.