The shares of UK’s two largest bookmakers increased after the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced that new rules must be imposed on the local industry.
Yesterday, the DCMS finally published its long-awaited review of controversial fixed-odds betting terminals, which was followed by a boost in the shares of Ladbrokes Coral and William Hill. The Share price of William Hill rose by 2.34%, while Ladbrokes Coral saw its share price increase by 1.68%.
At the time when the report was published, the Government revealed that the FOBTs’ maximum stakes must be reduced and also outlined a number of possible options which ranged from £50 to £2. The review is also to be followed by a 12-week consultation period over which bookmakers are given the chance to give their opinions and evidence for the most appropriate limit. Currently, the maximum bet allowed amounts to £100 and can be placed every 20 seconds.
According to some analysts, the review suggested that the a drastic reduction in the fixed-odds betting terminals’ maximum stake could not be expected for the time being, with the Government’s actions being interpreted as a “lack of political will” to impose a maximum stake of £2.
The industry review carried out by the UK Sports Minister Tracey Crouch and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport showed that a reduction in the FOBTs’ maximum stake to £50 would also be responsible for a £35 decline in the industry’s profits. However, it the estimates also showed that a possible reduction of the machines’ maximum stake to £2 would see a drastic fall in the industry’s profits which are expected to be reduced by £639 million.
ABB to Improve Responsible Gambling Measures
At the same time, the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) published a statement on the Government’s review of fixed-odds betting machines. The ABB shared its determination to consider and respond to the proposals included in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. According to the Association, any final decision on the possible industry and FOBTs crackdown should be primarily focused on making sure that the measures adopted would be of genuine benefit to players who suffer from gambling addictions.
The Association of British Bookmakers further explained that betting shops across the country have more than 6 million customers on an annual basis, with most of the players being responsible gamblers. According to its statement, customers who suffer from problem gambling behaviour normally use seven or more different types of gambling products, which makes the situation more difficult. In fact, in such cases it would be quite a challenge for the the industry to guarantee that problem gambling rates are to decrease from a state in which they have been considered stable.
Currently, UK betting shops make large investments in prevention of problem gambling by identifying the individuals who are at risk in order to make sure such people get adequate help. The Association of British Bookmakers further explained that it has been engaged with improving the responsible gambling measures.