Conservative manifesto includes zero reference to gambling sector ahead of general election

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Absence of further probing following white paper comes after Lib Dems promise to implement affordability checks and reduce black-market threat
The post Conservative manifesto includes zero reference to gambling sector ahead of general election first appeared on EGR Intel.  

The Conservative Party’s 2024 manifesto does not include a single reference to gambling ahead of the general election on 4 July.

Conversely, the party’s 2019 manifesto kickstarted the white paper into the Gambling Act 2005 review when it was released in December of that year.

The 2019 document included just two references to the sector, the first being a commitment to “tackle gambling addiction” and the second the review, which promised to focus on loot boxes and credit cards.

In turn, the government kicked the loot box problem down the road, leaving the policy in the hands of video game developers rather than amending any legislation.

The white paper, which was eventually overseen by seven different gambling ministers, has drawn ire for its headline policy of affordability checks and a lack of clarity around the future of the sector.

However, the 2024 80-page document released today, 11 June, contains zero reference to the sector, in what many connected to the industry will view as a major and disappointing blow.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who is under pressure and facing criticism for his failure to remain in France last week for D-Day celebrations, will be hoping his top-line policies of reducing national insurance to 6% by 2027 will be enough to turn the tide with just over three weeks until the public go to the polls.

Sunak’s home constituency of Richmond and Northallerton, which is home to Middleham racing centre and Catterick Racecourse, had seen industry stakeholders position the party leader as a supporter of the sector.

Elsewhere, the Liberal Democrats have pledged to “combat the harms caused by problem gambling” as part of their election manifesto.

The 117-page document, titled ‘For a Fair Deal’, has included gambling reform within the party’s planned changes to culture, media and sport in the country.

Currently, the Lib Dems are polling at around 10%, which puts the party well behind Labour on 44%, the Conservatives (23%) and Nigel Farage’s Reform UK (14%).

Gambling reform is broken down into five bullet points in the Lib Dem manifesto, with the spectre of the white paper into the Gambling Act 2005 review still looming, and influencing party policy.

The Libs Dems have pledged to implement “effective affordability checks” should they be voted into power, along with introducing the compulsory RET levy (funds for research, education and treatment related to gambling), although no rate was disclosed in the manifesto document.

The Lib Dems also committed to the establishment of a gambling ombudsman, which had been a pillar of the white paper following its release last April, but has yet to see any movement on the topic.

The final two additional points have seen the Lib Dems commit to “restricting gambling advertising” while also “taking tough action against black-market gambling” in their manifesto.

As outlined last year, Premier League clubs have voluntarily agreed to end front-of-shirt gambling sponsorships from the start of the 2026-27 season.

However, the white paper failed to include any major clampdowns, such as a watershed for advertising. The Gambling Commission has announced changes to opt-in marketing as part of its first consultation period.

The Lib Dem manifesto’s inclusion of gambling follows trends that have come out of the party in recent months, with a further clampdown on operators having been sounded out.

In February, party leader Sir Ed Davey called for greater taxes to be applied to the sector to help fund the health and social care sector, which include a Carer’s Minimum Wage, boosting the minimum wage for care workers by £2 an hour.

One month later, Lib Dem peer Lord Foster said the cutting of red tape in regard to data in the UK could “significantly aggravate data-driven harms” in the gambling sector.

Meanwhile, Labour is set to release its manifesto later this week, having been approved last Friday. However, it has not been backed by one of the UK’s largest trade unions, Unite.

With Sir Keir Starmer on course to take the keys to 10 Downing Street at the start of July, gambling policy could be either placed on the backburner or have a new Labour lick of paint applied to it.

Poppleston Allen solicitor Imogen Moss said: “It is not unheard of for a new government to want to make its own stamp on an important issue, but with so much to address elsewhere in the country, gambling reform may not be high on its [Labour’s] agenda. There will be a new gambling minister come what may, following the resignation of Stuart Andrew. 

“Should, as it seems likely, there be a new Labour government, it may be that the former shadow minister Stephanie Peacock will step into the role of gambling minister.

“She has spoken at the Betting and Gaming Council’s recent AGM and has taken part at recent debates in parliament regarding gambling.

“We can probably say she has been pragmatic so far, expressing some concern about levy rates and the impact of changes on the racing industry, but also supporting further protection of consumers. 

“There could be a reshuffle, however, should Labour form a government, and we could get a totally fresh face in the role of gambling minister who may wish to revisit some of the proposed changes,” Moss added.

The post Conservative manifesto includes zero reference to gambling sector ahead of general election first appeared on EGR Intel.

 

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