HM Treasury says FOBT stake cut will take up to two years

HM Treasury says FOBT stake cut will take up to two years

Friday, June 15, 2018 Posted by Joseph Streeter
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The controversy surrounding the terminals won't go away

Any hopes for a swift cut in stake for FOBTs have been dashed following the news this week that it is likely to take up to two years to introduce the recently announced maximum £2 stake on the machines. The delay, which will cause intense disappointment among competing high street gaming operators, is due to HM Treasury process which will involve secondary legislation.

News of the two-year hiatus was first featured in the Times newspaper, which revealed that the stake cut will not be implemented until April 2020. It immediately prompted anger from those who have campaigned for the stake cut, who are now claiming that LBO operators will still be able to earn an additional £4bn from the machines during that period. The DCMS was reportedly dismayed given that it had projected just one year to push through the legislation.

A Treasury spokesman told media: “Changes to the stake will be made through secondary legislation. We will also engage with the gambling industry to ensure it is given sufficient time to implement and complete the technological changes.”

Among those to voice their disdain at the Treasury was Labour MP Carolyn Harris, chairwoman of the all-party parliamentary group on FOBTs. In a statement to press, she said: “I am astounded that the Treasury has done a backroom deal that will be paid for by gambling losses from some of the most vulnerable in our society. To cosy up to a corporate lobby group like this and delay the implementation is totally unacceptable.”

She added: “The bookmakers’ argument that they need time to make technical adjustments to the machines is nonsense. This can happen quickly. Government ministers are saying they can reduce the stake only once they increase the duty on online gambling and that this could take up to two years. While I agree that online operators should be taxed more, this timescale is totally unacceptable. The fixed-odds betting terminals announcement should be a guaranteed promise that the proposed changes will happen as soon as possible.

“Myself and my colleagues, from across the political spectrum, have worked tirelessly to get this far. The Sunday People also campaigned vigorously for this vital reform. And we will not stop until the Government implements the changes they have promised.”

Totally Gaming says: And so the controversy surrounding fixed odds betting terminals refuses to dissipate. The bookies will probably view HM Treasury’s two-year projection as merely a temporary stay of execution rather than something to celebrate. If nothing else, it gives them a few more precious months to adjust to life without high octane stakes. The feeling among competing gambling firms on the high street, however, will most likely vacillate between serious disappointment and mild apoplexy.

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