Polarising DCMS Review causes industry unrest

Polarising DCMS Review causes industry unrest

Friday, November 3, 2017 Posted by Michael Lawson
GambleAware has released a statement supporting the review

The long-awaited Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) gambling review was finally published earlier this week, confirming fears among many in the British gambling industry, as the decision was made to reduce the maximum stakes for fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

It is now a case of playing the waiting game, with a twelve week period of consultation determining exactly how far the stakes will be lowered.

The decision was welcomed by GambleAware, with the prominent responsible gambling charity releasing a statement in the review’s aftermath that read: “GambleAware supports the proposed consultation on reducing stake limits in order to reduce overall losses, which is backed by the latest research.

“GambleAware is concerned with the impact of this, too often hidden, addiction on individuals and their families.

“Last year, we treated 8,000 people struggling with gambling addiction – just 2% of those with a problem, which is why more needs to be done.”

The Gambling Commission spoke in similarly enthusiastic tones, and described how the consultation period, that will end in January, “provides an important opportunity to consider the impact that gambling can have for some people.”

But unsurprisingly, many of those from within the gambling industry reacted with considerably less positivity to the review’s findings.

A spokesperson from the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) described in detail the negative financial impact this reduction in maximum stakes would cause: “Cutting the stakes on betting shop gaming machines will have a negative impact on the economic viability of betting shops.

“Independent accountants modelled varying levels of stake reductions and found that a £50 stake would result in over 1,600 shops closing, 7,000 job losses and a loss to horse racing of £50 million in media rights and levy payments by 2020.  

“A £2 stake would be catastrophic for betting shops, over half of all betting shops would close, 21,000 jobs would be lost and horse racing would lose £290 million by 2020.

“Betting shops will continue to invest to help identify those at risk so that they get the help that they need, we are continually updating and working to improve responsible gambling measures.”

Gambling minister Tracey Crouch refused to be drawn into favouring one side over the other at this stage, instead emphasising the importance of “striking the right balance between socially responsible growth and protecting the most vulnerable”, but it’s clear that this is only the beginning of the debate on what is becoming a highly divisive issue.

TotallyGaming says: Whatever the result is after the twelve week consultation period, the findings of the DCMS gambling review will be seen as a big blow to British bookmakers. The best they can hope for is a 50% reduction in stakes, but must also face up to the very real possibility of maximum stakes dropping to the miniscule sum of £2. The financial hit the industry would take from this drop would be huge, and lawmakers must take into account the loss in jobs and share prices when making their final decision.

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