Chancellor Philip Hammond has hinted that the UK Government could finally restrict the gambling machines in the country, despite earlier claims that the UK Treasury has managed to destroy the authorities’ attempt for imposing tighter regulation on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
Recently, fixed-odds betting machines have been one of the major concerns of local authorities and non-profit organisations aimed at problem gambling behaviour, as they have raised a red flag over the serious negative effects FOBTs could have on players. However, a possible crackdown could equal a reduction in the money flows to the UK Treasury, which has earlier shared its fears of losing the tax inflow generated from bookmakers’ profits.
It was exactly this unwanted effect which became the apple of discord between the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Treasury, ending up in an unwanted delay of the Government’s long-expected review of the country’s gambling industry, and more specifically, of the fixed-odds betting machines.
As reported by Casino Guardian at the beginning of August, Chancellor Hammond then warned that a reduction in the maximum FOBTs stake from £100 to £2 could leave a £400-million gap in the tax revenues of the country, with the Government being unable to allow such a loss. Local gaming operators, on the other hand, have raised their voices against such a reduction, saying that it would lead to massive lay-offs across the industry, ending up with the elimination of up to 20,000 jobs and closures of thousands of betting shops in the UK.
FOBTs Review Expected in October
FOBTs have long been thorn in the campaigners’ side, due to the large maximum stake of £100 allowed to be placed every 20 seconds. According to the proponents of the fixed-odds betting terminal’s, the highly-addictive nature of the machines could not only lead players into heavy debt, but could also lead to crime.
Right before the General Election, some members of the Parliament hinted that a possible reduction of the maximum stake from £100 to £2 could be made. However, the review was later delayed until October due to the disagreement that had appeared between the UK Treasury and the DCMS.
As Casino Guardian has reported in August, the UK Treasury has been rumoured to have strong doubts related to the Government’s review of the fixed-odds betting terminals. However, Chancellor Philip Hammond has now signalled that the Treasury was actually likely to support the expected crackdown on the machines, which addictive nature has been vastly criticised.
The hints of the possible back-up of the Treasury to the upcoming FOBTs review came as part of the Chancellor Hammond’s reply to the Bishop of St Albans, who had previously claimed that gambling addictions were linked to violent crimes. According to him, since 2010, there has been a 68% increase in violent crime associated with London-based betting shops.