SNP Manifesto Promises Public Inquiry into Problem Gambling

  • Scottish National Party pledges to tackle problem gambling
  • Large number of people in Scotland suffering gambling-related harm
  • Party has called on the UK government to treat gambling as a 'public health issue'
ballot box with Scottish national flag in background
The Scottish National Party (SNP) will implement wide-sweeping gambling reforms if the party is elected on December 12. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Public health issue

The UK’s third-largest party, the Scottish National Party (SNP) has voiced its view on gambling reforms and is calling on the UK government to treat problem gambling as a public health issue.

calling on the UK government to treat problem gambling as a public health issue

Releasing their Stronger for Scotland 2019 manifesto for the December 12 general election, the party added that it would want to put together a ‘joined-up strategy’ while also seeking greater devolution for the Scottish Parliament.

Concentrating on minors

Within the manifesto, the SNP pledged to concentrate on minors and possibly preventing them from accessing elements of chance from within popular video games, such as loot boxes. They would also look to propose age limits on certain sites, introducing age verification measures.

When it comes to gambling education, the party believes that the government should provide expert and free resources that highlight abusive behavior and how to spot it. Information on the potential for online harm and reporting measures would also be included.

Duty of care

The SNP believes that the government should commit to mandatory obligations and a statutory duty of care on technology – including gambling. They believe that the current party is “behind the times” when it comes to protecting people online.

new independent regulator who would have the power to impose heavy fines and block certain sites

They propose a new independent regulator who would have the power to impose heavy fines and block certain sites from operating, funded by a possible levy on technology companies and leading to a public awareness campaign.

Regarding changes, they also call for abolishing bureaucracy in charity lotteries to maximize returns on good causes.

Hot topic in election

Gambling has been a hot topic in the lead up to this general election.

All the other major parties have commented on the issue and committed to widespread change, including the Conservatives, Labour, and the Liberal Democrats. This means that the 2005 Gambling Act could be scrutinized, regardless of who comes to power.

The SNP has long voiced support for gambling reforms, including voting for a drastic cut the maximum amount bet at Fixed Odd’s Betting Terminals (FOBTs) of just £2 ($2.60).

Earlier this year, the party called for a gambling treatment clinic to be set up in Scotland due to high levels of gambling-related harm like debt, loss of housing, and unemployment. Currently, there are only two gambling clinics in the UK, one in London and the other in Leeds.

One percent levy supported

Inverclyde MP Ronnie Cowan, who is also vice chairman of the Gambling Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), went on to support calls in parliament for a one percent industry levy on all operators in order to fund such a clinic and continue research.

He said: “We’ve no such clinic in Scotland even though there are high levels of problem gambling and people suffering gambling-related harm. It’s vital Scotland is at the forefront of supporting those individuals affected and I believe the creation of a support clinic is a step in the right direction.”