UK Government Slash Maximum Stake For Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals To £2
May 18, 2018
The governmental Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport have today announced that they will be cutting the maximum stake of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) from £100 to £2 following more than a year of negotiations and debate.
The UK Gambling Commission in March advised that the maximum wager should be cut to £30, but the government have gone one step further, subject to parliamentary approval.
High-street bookmakers currently make more than half their revenue from FOBT machines, and the move will see the government’s tax reduce until the increase in duty is applied to online gambling following the next budget.
“Sometimes in politics you have the chance to really do something to help people and, in particular, in this case to help some very vulnerable people – hundreds of thousands of people who lose thousands of pounds on these machines,” said the secretary of state for DCMS, Matt Hancock.
“These machines are a social blight and prey on some of the most vulnerable in society, and we are determined to put a stop to it and build a fairer society for all.”
The news, however, has been met with scorn from companies within the betting industry including Betfred and the Association of British Bookmakers.
The move is likely to result in job losses and will result in a big loss of revenue. Shares in William Hill and Paddy Power have dropped by 3% and 1.5% respectively.
“This decision will result in unintended consequences including direct and indirect job losses, empty shops on the High Street, and a massive funding hit for the horseracing industry,” said Betfred’s managing director Mark Stebbings.
“This is a decision that will have far-reaching implications for betting shops on the high street. We expect over 4,000 shops to close and 21,000 colleagues to lose their jobs,” said the Association of British Bookmakers.
FOBTs generate £1.8bn in revenue for high-street bookmakers and £400m in taxes for the government.
Individual gamblers lost more than £1,000 on FOBTs on more than 233,000 occasions last year, and each machine takes £53,000 from gamblers every 12 months.
“This is something I, and others, have long campaigned for. FOBTs have caused too much social harm and huge losses for those who can least afford it,” said Labour MP Carolyn Harris.
“This was morally the right decision to make and it is a victory for all those people whose lives have been blighted by these toxic machines.”
The move is likely to come into effect sometime in 2018, though no date has officially been set.