Gambling industry insiders are weighing up the implications following the resignation on Wednesday of the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Tom Watson.
Watson has announced that he will be stepping down as Deputy Leader. He will also not be standing as an MP in the current election. The dramatic news hit the political headlines on Wednesday but as well as its political impact, the resignation could have implications for the gambling industry.
As Deputy Leader, Watson had taken the lead on the issue of reform and regulation of the gambling industry. He launched a review into the gambling industry and had put forward a number of proposals, including a ban on credit card gambling and the aim of raising £100 million for use in funding problem gambling research, treatment and prevention. He was also a leading figure in the successful campaign to reduce the maximum stakes of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals to £2 in 2018.
With Watson gone, the job of speaking for Labour on gambling issues will belong to Carolyn Harris. In the past, she has been outspoken in calling for more regulation of online gambling.
Without Watson to help drive it forward, the campaign for gambling industry reform may lose some of its momentum. This is particularly the case during an election season where gambling is not a high priority.
But ultimately, Watson’s tough approach to the industry was not out of line with the thinking of the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Indeed, it may be one of the few things that the two men, long considered political rivals, may agree upon.
And the push for tighter regulation is not only being driven by the Labour Party. Conservative figures and other stakeholders have also spoken out on the issue in recent months. The UK Gambling Commission has also been increasingly active in pushing for gambling reform.