UK-licensed online gambling operators are bracing for even more restrictions regardless of which party wins next month’s general election.
Over the weekend, UK Prime Minister and muppet stunt-double Boris Johnson released The Conservative and Unionist Party Manifesto 2019, laying out his priorities for the country following the December 12 UK election, from which early polls have suggested the Tories will emerge with a significantly enhanced majority in the House of Commons.
Apart from the main pledge to “get Brexit done,” the Tories also vow to “review” the 2005 Gambling Act, which the document claims is “increasingly becoming an analogue law in a digital age.” The Tories somehow missed the fact that the Act was the first local legislation to authorize and regulate online gambling, making the analogue allegations something of a misnomer. Not on par with those ridiculous NHS funding claims during the Brexit referendum, mind you, but it’s early days yet.
Anyway, the Tories say their review of the Act will have “a particular focus on tackling issues around loot boxes and credit card misuse.” The loot box issue is a political no-brainer, given its capacity to allow pols to utilize their bog-standard ‘think of the children’ lines.
While some parliamentarians maintain that loot box mechanics don’t meet the current definition of gambling, UKGC stats show that many kids claim to have been pushed down the slippery slope toward actual gambling via their exposure to loot boxes, so it’s a virtual lock to expect draconian new measures on this front.
As for credit cards, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is conducting a public consultation on whether it should ban the use of credit cards for online gambling purposes. A group of UK parliamentarians recently called for a number of online gambling restrictions, including a credit card ban and a reduction in online slots stakes to match the new £2 max stake on retail gaming machines that was imposed on April 1.
Also, more and more UK banking institutions have begun rolling out new features that allow customers to restrict their access to a variety of allegedly harmful products, including online gambling.
Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have already weighed in with their own anti-gambling manifestos, with Labour promising a total gambling overhaul and the Lib-Dems supporting a credit card ban.
Neither of the latter parties’ leaders appear to have any greater chance of becoming Prime Minister than I have of hooking up with Rihanna, but this all-party piling on gambling demonstrates just how far down the sector has slid in terms of public perception. Rest assured, the regulatory reckoning that has plagued the sector over the past few years had yet to find its bottom.