Peter Hannibal, chief executive of UK industry organisation the Gambling Business Group (GBG), has called on the market to begin preparations for what he said is now an ‘inevitable’ overhaul of national legislation.
Hannibal’s (pictured) comments come after all of the UK’s major political parties set out plans for changes to gambling laws in their manifestos, ahead of the General Election on 12 December.
The Conservatives committed to a review of the 2005 Gambling Act, while the Liberal Democrats also made a similar pledge in its manifesto. Labour said it would introduce a new gambling act that is “fit for the digital age”, while the Scottish National Party also called for changes to current laws.
“A review of gambling legislation is now inevitable, whatever the make-up of the next parliament,” Hannibal said. “We should look upon this as an opportunity to re-set the narrative around gambling in the UK, but this will require a different approach from everyone, not least from the industry itself. This is going to happen, and we need to be preparing for it now.”
Hannibal also issued a warning to the low stake retail sector, saying that it must ensure it does not become a secondary consideration in the political discourse.
“A common voice for the low stake sector has never been more relevant and necessary,” he said. “We need to examine ways in which the various low stake gaming verticals can collaborate, at the very least on the big ticket items such as empirical research to help inform the debate.”
Hannibal added that while any changes to current law are not likely to come into effect for a number of years, industry members should start to plan now so that they are fully prepared.
“While it could be two years before we see any real movement, I think it’s essential that we start the process immediately after we know the outcome of the general election,” Hannibal said.
“Members of the industry who were around at the time will remember that the 2005 Act was intended to be an ‘enabling Act’, designed to be able to accommodate and adapt to technological change. Best intentions never materialised because the negative narrative killed off the political appetite.
“Both of the main parties are now on the same page, which makes change inevitable whatever the outcome of the December 12 election. This is an opportunity to start over and we must use it.”