FOBT debate rages on in Parliament

FOBT debate rages on in Parliament

Friday, July 13, 2018 Posted by Joseph Streeter
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The industry has pleaded with the government for a transition period

The debate over Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTS) continues to rumble on, as MPs play political football over the timeline of when the new regulations will be implemented.

In Parliament this week, it was outlined that the implementation of the cutting of the maximum stake from £100 to £2 would be done through a secondary legislation. Lord Ashton of Hyde, who is The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) emphasised that the changes “will happen alongside engagement with the gambling industry to ensure that there is an appropriate period in which to implement the technological changes and develop plans to mitigate the potential impact on employment”.

However, in response to this the Bishop of St Albans expressed that the delight which greeted the Government’s original decision to cut the maximum stakes on FOBTs, has now turned to “puzzlement and dismay”.

He added: “We know that these machines cause bankruptcy, family breakdown and in some cases even suicide. The Minister in the other place said that the decision was being made because it was the right and the moral thing to do, yet we now hear that it could take up to two years.”

To which the The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the DCMS detailed that the process has already begun. He did, however, underline that the process is lengthy, with the European Union under the EU Technical Standards and Regulations Directive, needing to be notified of any changes.

Conservative MP Lord Deben then chimed in with what some may describe as a more cynical perspective, when he stated: “This is a Treasury matter and the reason it is being held up is precisely because of that last point—the Treasury makes money out of it? This not right. We want this change because this gambling causes misery and ought not to continue. It is not good enough to plead administrative difficulties; these people should stop, and stop now.”

Nonetheless, these claims were rebutted by Lord Ashton, who was keen to point out that the matter was not in the hands of the treasury, but was instead a matter being dealt with by the DCMS. He said: “There is a process that has to be gone through when such measures are implemented. We have to take into account not only the harm to gambling but the harm to employment that will be caused by this.”

Totally Gaming says: The FOBT issue remains one of the highest delicacy, as such a drastic change will inevitably have a huge impact on the livelihood of many, given how many people are employed in the betting sector. It shouldn’t be in the least bit surprising that the industry is pleading with the government to allow it time to implement these changes.

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