£2 FOBT stake is the issue that refuses to go away

£2 FOBT stake is the issue that refuses to go away

Monday, March 26, 2018 Posted by Luke Massey
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A Conservative Party revolt has called for FOBT stakes to be limited to £2

A Conservative Party revolt on gaming machine stakes and prizes could yet see a maximum £2 stake implemented on FOBTs in the UK.

The rebellion is being led by Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for Worthing West. He believes that ultimately, Parliament will not sanction the go-ahead for anything other than a £2 stake on the grounds that it is a social issue that must be resolved.

In a statement in the Evening Standard, Bottomley argued that should the government settle on a final figure of £2, it would be easily passed without a vote. Anything higher, he ventured, would be subject to a vote and he expected the result of such a vote to be £2.

“Parliament, I’m certain, will be able to have a clear vote on whether it’s £2 or anything else the government may propose,” he said. “If the government proposed £2 all-round they’ll get that through easily, if they propose anything higher than £2, I think they’ll be a vote on £2, and I expect £2 to be the result.”

The MP was also critical of the UK Gambling Commission, arguing that it should have acted far sooner on limiting stakes to £2 ‘years ago’. As for losses to the Treasury in the wake of a cut in stake, he remained unsympathetic, saying: “The issue is that (revenue) comes in large part from poorer people who were not supposed to lose it in the first place. Parliament never intended the Treasury to have so much money, because it did not expect people to lose so much money in the first place.”

The final decision now rests with Culture Minister Matthew Hancock MP, who will face pressure from the Treasury not to turn off the taps to what has become a steady stream of revenue. Equally the public, swayed by questionable tactics on both sides of the debate, will be looking for him to adopt a strong stance towards big business.

Totally Gaming says: Whichever side of the fence you sit on in this debate, the outcome for all concerned looks rather bleak if, as Bottomley argues, a £2 stake is applied. Essentially, it would signal an end to all stake and prize increases for some considerable time for all sectors of the UK high street gaming machine business. Yes, there would be a level playing field, but who’d want to be competing on it under those restrictions?

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