UKGC advises the government to cut FOBT stakes to £30

UKGC advises the government to cut FOBT stakes to £30

Monday, March 19, 2018 Posted by Joseph Streeter
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It emphasised that it has “put consumers at the heart of its advice”

Releasing its recommendations for the Government, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has moved away from the notion that the maximum stakes on FOBT (B2) gaming machines need to be cut to £2.

The news will have elevated hope amongst bookmakers, who would have been fearing a worst case scenario which would have seen the stakes cut from £100 to just £2, something that would have had a significant impact on the profitability of betting shops.

Gambling Commission Chief Executive Neil McArthur stated: “We’ve put consumers at the heart of our advice – advice which is based on the best available evidence and is focussed on reducing the risk of gambling-related harm.

“In our judgement, a stake cut for Fixed Odds Betting Terminals alone doesn’t go far enough to protect vulnerable people. That is why we have recommended a stake cut plus a comprehensive package of other measures to protect consumers. We have proposed actions that will tackle both the risk of harm and provide solutions that are sustainable in the longer term.”

However, the government’s decision which is expected in the coming months, will not hinge solely on the recommendations of the UKGC, with many campaigners still lobbying for the stakes to be cut to £2. Issuing a statement on his Facebook page, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson was critical of the UKGC’s recommendations: “Today's Gambling Commission's recommendation that the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals be reduced from £100 to £30 or less does not go anything like far enough. It simply passes the buck to ministers.

“But, if we are to tackle the hidden epidemic of gambling addiction in this country, we need decisive action. We need to reduce the maximum stake on electronic casino games like roulette to £2, and introduce slower spin times.”

He added: “I sincerely hope ministers do the right thing, but I fear they will cow-tow to the powerful lobbying of the betting industry which generates £1.8bn a year by putting the health of its profits before the health of its customers.”

Nonetheless, the UKGC’s recommendations will give the government leverage to potentially limit keep the maximum stakes above £2, limiting the damage that the changes will have on bookmakers and the various industries that could be affected by the new regulations.

The Association of British Bookmakers reasserted its stance that such a drastic reform would have severe implications on not just the retail bookmakers, detailing that if the stakes were cut to £2, then it could lead to 4,500 betting shop closures, 21,000 jobs lost and £1.1 billion lost in taxes paid to the HM Treasury by 2020.

On the other hand, if the government were to take the advice of the UKGC and reduce the stakes to £30, then the implications would result in far less turbulence for the gambling sector, with 2,100 shop closures, 10,000 jobs being lost and a total of £260 million not going to the Treasury via the Gambling sector.

Outlining its stance after the suggestions of the UKGC, The ABB revealed: "We are now considering the extensive and wide-ranging advice and recommendations made by the Gambling Commission. We fully understand that there is public concern and that there will be a stake cut to reduce the levels of losses on machines in betting shops.

“The Commission has also identified a number of responsible gambling measures that will benefit those experiencing problems with their gambling. The final decision remains to be made and we await the outcome of the consultation.  In the interim, we remain committed to introducing further measures to address problem gambling and will continue to work with all interested parties."

Totally Gaming says: With Ladbrokes already revealing that it would be forced to rethink its expansive sponsorship portfolio in the event of stakes being cut to £2, British Racing also outlined that the impact on horse racing will be a loss of £50 million per annum. It’s important that the government acknowledges that implementing such a drastic reform will have far reaching and impactful consequences on many industries, as well as the national economy.

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