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How politics is impacting on the gambling industries of the UK & USA

The world is currently undergoing the biggest period of political upturn since the late 1940s when Europe and most of the world was decimated by the devastating effects of World War Two.

Extreme views on both sides of the political spectrum are rising to the fore in the United Kingdom, United States and much of mainland Europe. Whilst it may be a cause for concern, it has also led to a greater state of political awareness from the public.

More and more people are now engaging with politics as a way to ensure their current freedoms and combat extremism. Whilst it may not always make the headlines in these difficult times, gambling is one industry that is increasingly dependent on the political landscape. So, what is the current political situation in the UK and the USA? Read on to find out.

The United Kingdom

City View at London

Boris Johnson is the leader of the Conservative Party and UK Prime Minister

After the December 12th2019election, the UK is now under the control of Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party, which was the favourable winner over the labour partyin gambling terms.

From the manifesto, we can expect a continuation of the gambling legislation that has sought to level the playing field in recent years. Under the previous conservative stewardship of Theresa May and her predecessor David Cameron, there were concerted moves to crackdown on problem gambling.

UK measures to prevent problem gambling

Person Playing Poker

The British public are in favour of government measures which help to prevent problem gambling.

The government in previous years have focused on their ambition to make gambling ‘fairer and safer for players’. The first move to implement this policy was by cutting the maximum stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals such as slot machines.

These terminals, according to the Conservative government were a major cause of social problems in the gambling industry.  In the run up to the legislation taking effect, the media was flooded with tales of woe from punters who had frittered away their wages on fixed-odds betting terminals.

Public opinion was therefore largely in favour of a move to cut the maximum stakes, but it did have a huge impact on the gambling industry. The vast majority of high-street betting chains reported losses of up to 25% in the wake of the move, with one notable company claiming it had wiped £1 billion off their annual revenues.

The falling revenues of gambling giants are unlikely to elicit sympathy from the public, who seem to remain firmly behind further clampdowns on the industry. Currently only a small selection of fixed-odds betting terminals are subject to the maximum stakes cap.

However, emboldened by the public response so far, it’s likely that a new Tory government would be tempted to extend the restrictions to all fixed-odds machines.

That would mean that if you were learning how to play craps on a casino-style terminal or spinning the reels with an online slot, you would be restricted to a maximum stake of £2. If legislation like this does come into effect, it may receive public backing initially, but it will have a detrimental effect on the wider industry, perhaps resulting in a less appealing market for customers.

The United States

Silhouette of Statue Near Trump Building at Daytime

Donald Trump is President of the United States of America and leader of the Republican party. 

For many, the USA is seen as the home of gambling, thanks to the public image of Nevada’s gambling Mecca – Las Vegas. However, in many states in the USA, it is either difficult or impossible to gamble either online or in land-based premises.

One of the biggest areas of gambling inequality in the country is the online sector, which is largely outlawed in many states. However, in recent years a small handful of states have taken the bold move to legalise online gambling themselves and have reaped the economic rewards.

To the outsider it might seem strange that the United States has such a conservative outlook to gambling when it is home to Las Vegas and is also a country that has birthed some of the most popular casino games in the world.

Current conservative gambling views can be traced back to Sheldon Adelson, one of the wealthiest men in the country and one of the biggest financial backers to Donald Trump and the Republican Party.

Adelson is the owner of Las Vegas Sands, a company that has made its money through land-based casino gambling in Vegas. Unsurprisingly, Adelson is against online gambling as he perhaps rightly believes it will impact on the profits of his land-based ventures.

Prior to President Trump’s inauguration it seemed likely that a Democrat government would loosen the law surrounding online gambling. However, Adelson’s influence on the White House is such that any chance of a national bill being passed to legalise online gambling has been squashed.

Summary

Politics and intimate relationships between parties and donors can have a huge impact on legislation and decision making. In the United Kingdom it is likely that stricter rules will be enforced on the gambling industry as a way to boost public support for the government.

Whereas in the United States, it is fair to say that gambling legislation is currently in the hands of a one of the industry’s biggest players. As a major party donor, Sheldon Adelson’s influence is such that he can guide the current administrations thinking when it comes to gambling.

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