What are the Conservative and Labour manifestos on gambling?


It has been three long years since the UK voted to leave the EU in the Brexit referendum. Now, after a considerable amount of Westminster bickering, one Prime Minister’s resignation and delayed deadline after delayed deadline, it is once again General Election time in the UK.

With the aim of pushing through his own Brexit deal, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called a General Election in the hope of gaining more seats for his Conservative Party.

On the other hand, Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn is hopeful of taking over Brexit negotiations himself.

If the results of the 2017 election are anything to go by, it could be tight between the two main parties, with Conservatives and Labour securing 42.4% and 40% of the vote share respectively two years ago.

With just over two weeks until voting begins, the election campaigns are well underway, the TV debates have been flowing and the manifestos are out. But what does each party have to say on the topic of gambling?


The Conservative manifesto outlines plans to “make the UK the safest place in the world to be online.”

In terms of gambling, this would mean a review of the Gambling Act 2005, which the party believes is “increasingly becoming an analogue law in a digital age.”

This isn’t a great divergence from the party’s current policy towards the Gambling Act, which has already been under review recently.

In September, the Select Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry heard evidence on the Gambling Act’s effectiveness, tackling everything from problem gambling prevention, advertising and exposure to children and the vulnerable.

The Act’s ability to deal with online gambling was one of the most prominent parts of this discussion.

Sir Alan Budd GBE, former Chairman of the Gambling Review Body, stated that although the online market was considered when the Act was created, at that date online gambling could not legally be provided by a UK-based company, and “it is difficult to study an illegal industry.”

As a result of this, the Conservative manifesto suggests the Gambling Act may no longer be suitable for the modern market, although it seems the party believes further reviews are needed before any lasting changes can be made.

The manifesto goes on to say there will be a particular focus on “tackling issues around loot boxes and credit card misuse.” Both subjects have received a significant amount of attention this year, with the Gambling Commission holding a 12-week study on credit card use in August, with the possibility of a credit gambling ban.

Certain MPs have also proposed the banning of loot boxes, while the Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, requested greater regulation of the micro transactions, believing they need to be considered gambling.

In this sense, the manifesto touches on the most current issues regarding the industry, but doesn’t make clear whether the party would look to impose a ban in either case.


The Labour manifesto pledges to treat “the adverse impacts of gambling as a matter of public health,” such as with drug-related deaths and alcohol-related health problems.

Most prominently, the party outlines plans to “introduce a new Gambling Act fit for the digital age,” recognising that the 2005 Act is outdated (like the Conservatives). Instead, however, it is proposing a completely new one for the modern market.

While the manifesto does not stipulate exactly what this would include, it says the party will establish new limits on gambling, introduce a levy for problem gambling funding and mechanisms for consumer compensation.

Similarly to the Conservative manifesto, this is a vague outline, but “establishing gambling limits” could refer to the Gambling Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group’s recent proposal for stake and deposit limits to be set at £2 ($2.60) for online slot games.

The party would also look to “curb gambling advertising in sports.” This is something Labour was already committed to through Tom Watson, Labour MP for West Bromwich East and the party’s former Deputy Leader.

An outspoken critic of the Gambling Commission, the MP was developing plans to review the industry, including implementing a ban on football sponsorship.

Watson stepped down from his role in the party earlier this month, but it can be assumed Labour will look to continue his work.

The Labour manifesto does not mention the issue of credit cards or loot boxes. Given its proposal for a completely new Gambling Act though, these factors would certainly need to be considered.


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