On December 12th, the people in the United Kingdom will be voting in their third general election in four years. While this forthcoming general election seems to be based mainly around the polarizing notion of Brexit, something which has befuddled the country since the 2016 referendum, it is not the only issue at stake.
Gambling – both real world and online – has for the last few years been another bone of contention in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. For some reason online gambling is seen as some kind of ‘monster’ that has to be ‘tamed’, which seems hypocritical seeing that the government has no problem in promoting the National Lottery and its scratch cards.
The next government as voted by the UK public could be in power until 2024, and there are likely to be some seismic changes in gambling rules and regulations between now and then. Here we take a quick look at what each of the major parties have said in their manifestos about gambling and online gambling in particular.
Conservatives (leader: Boris Johnson)
Given that the election was called because of the latest Brexit delay that prevented the UK from leaving the EU on October 31, it’s no wonder the Boris and his toff buddies are building their campaign upon getting Brexit done, despite their government failing to do so now for three and a half years.
The Conservatives say very little about gambling in their manifesto, except that they “will continue to tackle gambling addiction”. It also mentions that it considers the current Gambling Act “is increasingly becoming an analogue law in a digital age”, seemingly oblivious to the existence of the United Kingdom Gambling Commission.
Labour (leader: Jeremy Corbyn)
Labour remain the key opposition to the Conservative Party, despite the unpopularity of their leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has finally apologised for the anti-Semitism claims that have blighted the party of the past couple of years. Corbyn is pro-Brexit too, but says if voted into power he would allow a referendum on the final Brexit deal.
A Labour government would also curb all gambling advertising in sports (which would be a blow for football as most teams are sponsored now by gambling companies) and introduce a new Gambling Act fit for the digital age, establishing gambling limits, increasing funding to tackle problem gambling and allowing citizens to claim compensation if gambling companies are found to be at fault for their issues.
Liberal Democrats (leader: Jo Swinson)
As the major anti-Brexit party, the Lib Dems would be expected to be performing better in the polls than they currently are, but at least it seems they won’t be completely abandoned by voters like they have been in the previous three elections.
The Lib Dems say they will be the toughest party when cracking down on problem gambling. They claim that they will introduce a compulsory levy on gambling companies in order to fund research, education and treatment concerning problem gambling, will completely ban the use of credit cards for gambling, restrict gambling advertising and will establish a gambling ombudsman.
Brexit Party (leader: Nigel Farage)
Nigel Farage is the winter cold of UK politics, in that he’s annoying, lingers far beyond his welcome and just won’t go away. His single-issue party seems intent on splitting the vote of the pro-Brexiters, despite the fact that he and the Tories both want the same thing. Sadly for Farage, Boris and his pals just don’t like him.
The Brexit Party say they have not launched a manifesto, but instead a ‘contract’ between itself and the UK people to come into use on the extremely unlikely chance that the Brexit party come anywhere near power. The contract though makes absolutely no mention of gambling, and indeed Farage and his entourage seem too obsessed by Brexit to consider anything else.
Scottish National Party (leader: Nicola Sturgeon)
It is expected that the Scottish National Party will make huge gains in the 2019 General Election after losing a staggering 21 seats out of 59 in the previous vote, held in 2017. Leader Nicola Sturgeon has made her number one policy clear – to allow the people of Scotland a second independence referendum should a pro-Brexit party or coalition gain the ability to govern the UK once the 2019 election is over.
Like the Tories and Labour, the SNP manifesto mentions the 2005 Gambling Act, and its need for a stringent update. It also mentions that problem gambling should be treated as a public health problem.
December 12th, 2019 will be a crucial day for the UK, which is a country that has been toiling under the shadow of Brexit for too long. The result should see Brexit completed, or Brexit abandoned, or the chance for another referendum. Online gamblers will also know what the future holds for them, too.