Proposed £2 max stake “equates to a ban on FOBTs”

Proposed £2 max stake “equates to a ban on FOBTs”

Thursday, March 8, 2018 Posted by Craig Davies
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Independent bookies wrote to the Prime Minister this week

A group of independent bookmakers joined forces earlier this week to write to Prime Minister Theresa May, urging a rethink on proposals to lower the maximum stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) to £2.

Representatives cited potential impacts upon small businesses and customers ahead of the government judgement, in an era where “betting shops are already closing at an alarming rate”.

An agreement with the PM was also issued from the independent bookies when referring to a pair of her previous statements: “From dynamic start-ups to established family firms, our small and medium sized businesses are the backbone of our country,” as well as a desire to “want to build an economy that works for all, and that means working with, and listening to, smaller firms”.

Dominic Ford of Roar Betting, who organised the letter and who is also Vice-Chairman (Independent Operators) of the Association of British Bookmakers, spoke to TotallyGaming.com about the proposals and their possible effects: “By restricting the amount that a player can stake to £2 is so restrictive to game play. It prevents you being able to have enough chips to cover multiple numbers.

“It is effectively banning the game as we know it. The irony here is that making the stake this low will drive many people to games that are more volatile, and  therefore potentially harmful, for the player. This is the exact opposite of the DCMS’s stated aim of preventing harm.”

Before adding what action the independent bookies behind the plea would deem as appropriate: “We would follow the independent advice of the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board. Their advice was that harm from problem gambling is not product specific.

“They said that there is no evidence to support the assertion that a reduction in stake level on FOBTs would have any impact on reducing harm. However they have said that a precautionary approach could be taken and reduce stakes but that £2 would not be a proportionate response. That is the correct, independent, intellectual & evidenced based approach. I would support that.

“The Responsible gambling (RG) environment is recognised to be at it’s best in the betting shop environment as a result of all the RG measures that have been introduced in the last 5 years and most importantly because of the human interactions which take place compared to online and other gambling environments.”

Totally Gaming says: The government judgement on the proposed wagering reduction has been long coming, and this latest move by independent bookmakers puts into stark contrast possible consequences of a £2 maximum stake. Ford also addresses potential shop revenue reductions of 50%, a push of gambling into the realm of illegal gambling, job losses and a “devastating impact” on both horse and greyhound racing, as consequences should £2 be the imposed figure. Whatever the outcome when it finally arrives, it is sure to long debated and far reaching.

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