December’s general elections may not have a significant impact on the fate of the British gambling industry. Regardless of who wins, the company can expect stricter regulations. British PM Boris Johnson released the Conservative and Unionist Party Manifesto 2019 in which he prioritized a review of the 2005 Gambling Act.
Political pundits expect a thumping win for the Tories in the elections as they take over a bigger portion of the House of Commons. Johnson promises to “get Brexit done” alongside a new gambling regulation. The party believes that 2005 law is an analogue regulation that cannot suffice in the digital age. Some of their promises have hovered on the recommendations made by an all-party group recently. It includes prevention of credit card misuse and regulation for loot boxes.
The loot box is particularly challenging since some parliamentarians believe that they don’t technically qualify as gambling. The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is hawkish on this feature commonly used in games, claiming kids often get exposed to a form of gambling at an early age. The regulator is also conducting a public consultation to ban credit card use in online gambling. British banking institutions have also started providing a credit card freeze feature to help users self-impose a gambling ban.
Note that the all-party group recommends a £2 maximum stake on online betting, similar to fixed-odds betting machine (FOBT) restrictions imposed in April. However, individual party recommendations differ. The Liberal Democrats support a ban on credit card use, while Labour suggests a complete overhaul of the UK gambling regime.
The road ahead will be tricky for any party that takes over the House of Commons post-elections. Though Tories have a higher chance of usurping the polls, the gambling industry should not expect lenient treatment even with a historic upset. Gambling is one of the biggest issues in the polls this time, right at par with Brexit.