Guest Editor - Casino Life Magazine July 2014

posted Jul 17, 2014, 4:57 AM by Steve Donoughue

It is less than a year until the United Kingdom goes to the polls to elect a new government. By this time we will also know if the people of Scotland will have voted for independence. The outcome of both elections is uncertain, the safest money being on a No vote north of the border and the riskiest being on a minority Labour government in Westminster.

What does this mean for the casino industry, you may ask?

Well nothing directly. Just that over the next few months all political parties will be writing their election manifestoes. The safest bet of all will be that they don’t mention the word casino at all. But it’s pretty likely that in the small print they will mention gambling in reference to betting shop clustering and the perceived danger of fixed odds betting terminals (FOBT’s) and how each party aims to deal with this in a restrictive and constraining way.

Yet again you may be asking what this has to do with casinos, apart from the fact that many in the industry have been actively campaigning against FOBTs as an inappropriate product to have freely available on the high street. Well the result of this has been, I would argue, successful to some extent but has also been akin to ‘urinating in the well’. The campaign against the FOBT’s has increased the political toxicity of gambling in general and the majority of our Parliamentarians are not knowledgeable enough to know the difference between the sectors. All they see is the spectre of problem gambling in the press and they don’t want anything to do with it or any part of the industry.

 The UK casino industry is in aspic. We need to change the law to allow for parity between ’68 Act and 2005 Act licences. We need to change the law to allow for more licences through portability. But in order to do this, we need to stop fanning the flames of anti-gambling rhetoric in Parliament. By doing so we make any reform too much trouble for politicians to consider the heavy lifting. The Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats are not the gambling industry’s biggest fans and they don’t need more reasons to dislike us.

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