How Will The General Election Affect The UK Gambling Industry?

There has been talk of gambling reform ever since the 2019 Conservative party manifesto. Little progress has been made and we’re now approaching the 2024 General Election. The publication of party manifestos has given some indication of what lies ahead after the July 4 poll.


Current Legislation Outdated


The last major Gambling Act came into force 19 years ago. There seems to be no argument about whether or not that legislation needs updating. The UK gambling industry has undergone many changes over the past 19 years and there is a need to update the law to address the digital age.

Over the past five years there has been slow progress made on introducing new legislation. That’s been because of the chaos in Downing Street including the short time as PM of Liz Truss.

White Paper on gambling reform was published last year. More consultation has followed and we are at the stage where some concrete changes are on the way.



Changes On The Way


This year has seen news that a maximum stake limit for UK’s online slot sites, free spins and games will be introduced in September 2024. Those aged 18-24 are seen to need protecting the most and the maximum stake per spin will be set at £2. For those aged over 24, the maximum stake limit will be £5.

There are also changes due to be made for land-based casinos. These include debit cards being able to be used and more slot machines being allowed.


Continuation Policy By Tories?


The recently published Conservative manifesto does not add to the details of last year’s White Paper. There’s no mention of stricter affordability checks or a levy placed on gambling companies.

We can only presume that if the Tories were to remain in power they would continue with implementing what has been announced so far. It’d be with a new minister for gambling though as  has announced his resignation from the post.


Labour Promise Reform


With Labour so far ahead in the opinion polls, most interest in the gambling industry has been aimed towards what their plans are.

Their manifesto did mention gambling and the party has promised reforms to the current regulations that are in place. The party supported the White Paper but if elected, they may well make some changes to it.

The manifesto document said that the party is “committed to reducing gambling-harm.” Their intention is that measures introduced will work towards “strengthening protections.” Working alongside the gambling industry their aim will be to “ensure responsible gambling.”


Gambling Industry Pleased


The industry has been pleased to read that a Labour administration would work with them on future regulatory changes..

Michael Dugher is the chief executive and acting chair of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC). His previous jobs have included being the  Labour MP for Barnsley East between 2019 and 2017. Mr Dugher was the Shadow Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport. That’s the department that oversees gambling reform.

He has welcomed the Labour Manifesto and “its commitment to continue to working with the industry to further drive up standards.” His view is that last year’s White Paper included “the biggest regulatory changes in a generation.”

Mr Dugher added that the BGC will “remain committed to working with the next government.” They have already worked closely with shadow ministers in the past few years.




He stressed that any changes should be both “evidence-based and proportionate.” Getting the balance right between protecting those who are vulnerable but not imposing “unnecessary intrusion” on those who bet responsibly is important.

Stricter affordability checks are an area of concern. August is due to see the UK Gambling Commission pilot ‘frictionless affordability checks.’ The fear is that this could drive some gamblers to the unlicensed and unregulated black market where customer protection is not high.

Who might be the minister for gambling in a new Labour government? The shadow minister was Stephanie Peacock, who succeeded Michael Dugher as Labour MP for Barnsley East. Speaking about financial risk checks, she said that they are important but should be “truly frictionless, targeted and accurate.”


Liberal Democrats’ plans


The Liberal Democrats have also mentioned gambling reform in their manifesto. They wish to “combat the harms caused by problem gambling.” To achieve this they would introduce affordability checks that are “effective.”

They’ve previously suggested that those gamblers losing more than £100 a month should be required to provide evidence that they can afford to lose such amounts. Also planned is cracking down on those who operate in the black market.

They also want to place more restrictions on how gambling is advertised. A gambling ombudsman would be appointed and there would be a compulsory levy on betting companies. Funds received would be used to fund safer gambling projects.

The publication of these documents gives a slightly clearer idea of what reforms lie ahead for the UK gambling industry. The hope is that the regulations introduced will be fair.