More Gambling Regulation Promised in the UK’s Scottish National Party’s Manifesto

December 3, 2019 3 min read
by Thomas Wolf

All of the UK’s major parties have now released their manifestos for the General Election coming later this month, rounding off with the Scottish National Party (SNP) as the last to do so.

The topic of gambling is understandably far from many voters’ political considerations during this difficult and divisive campaigning period. Different parties’ promises in this area haven’t seen much mainstream media coverage.

Now that the dust has settled (temporarily), we thought it would be a good time to take a look at what SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and other parties have said about gambling legislation—and what, if anything, any future governments might put into action.

UK Parliament Gambling Vote

‘A Public Health Matter’

The SNP’s manifesto mentions the word ‘gambling’ six times, in four of which it is preceded by the word ‘problem.’ Clearly, Nicola Sturgeon’s party isn’t happy with current regulatory frameworks that are in place to help prevent susceptible players from becoming problem gamblers.

The party also trumpeted its position at ‘the forefront’ of the UK’s newest gambling law that put a £2 per bet limit on fixed-odds betting terminals in high-street shops. In the future, the SNP promises a full review of the 2005 Gambling Act and aims to treat problem gambling as a ‘public health problem,’ whatever that may involve.

A similar promise was made by Labour in their manifesto, and even the Conservatives have committed to a full review of the now-15-year-old Act.

But back to the SNP where, as with many things, Nicola Sturgeon wants more devolution for Scotland regarding gambling laws. This could lead to a confusing situation where online casino owners operating in Scotland have to follow different laws from the rest of the UK.

‘Underage Gambling in Video Games’

A key whipping post for many political parties regarding gambling in 2019 is loot boxes and other forms of video game-based gambling that, in their opinion, lead to young people problem gambling in the future.

While no conclusive scientific evidence directly supports this assumption, it is documented that the number of problem gamblers among young people has risen in the past two years—even after a decade or more of steady falling.

Something must be driving this increase after a long decline, and the UK’s political parties seem to view video game gambling as the cause. Whether this is true or false, we can expect to see MPs across parliament pushing for a crackdown on this form of gambling in the near future, regardless of who takes power in the upcoming General Election.

The SNP also wants to create a new independent online regulator to protect people from online harm, although it’s unclear how this might apply to online casinos and other gambling venues.

The least we are certain to get from any future government is a full review of the Gambling Act 2005—and most likely a fair few updates to the laws within it, too.

Out of the main parties, the SNP and Labour have gone into the most detail with their proposals. Thus, we should expect the most action from their MPs in terms of new or updated gambling legislation in the UK.

Author

Thomas Wolf

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