It turns out that the blow which is expected to be inflicted to UK gambling operators after a large reduction to fixed-odds betting terminals’ (FOBTs) maximum stakes could not be so serious as the one the Government has initially predicted.
The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has recently released a report according to which the crackdown that is set to be imposed on controversial fixed-odds betting machines would not end up having such a devastating impact on local bookmakers’ performance as it was initially expected.
According to the information included in the CEBR report, if the maximum bet allowed at the FOBTs is reduced from the currently permitted bet of £100 to £2, this would lead to only £335 million less for the operators. The initial estimates for the losses to be suffered by local gambling operators due to the FOBTs maximum stake reduction amounted to £639 million at the beginning of Government’s consultations, which basically means that the new estimates are approximately 50% smaller than the original projections.
The report in question was authorised by the British Amusement Catering Trade Association (BACTA). According to claims of the Centre for Economics and Business Research, the revenue drop that could also bring smaller amount of taxes to the Government, could partly be neutralised by the smaller amount of money that is to be paid by the country to deal with gambling addictions and their negative impact on individuals. Currently, the UK Government spends a total amount of £210 to fight with problem gambling related to the controversial fixed-odds betting machines.
Previously, BACTA revealed that it was looking to boost the maximum prizes and stakes allowed on the category D machines that feature a maximum stake of 10p and a maximum prize of £5, respectively. Now, the Association’s Chief Executive Officer John White commented that the latest research carried out by the CEBR provided a very clear view of the actual impact that a FOBTs maximum stake of £2 would have. He further shared that local gambling operators need to protect their customers from everyday risks associated with possible gambling-related harm. Furthermore, Mr. White commented on the current maximum stake of £100, saying that it was dangerously high and called the UK Government to reduce it to a maximum of £2.
However, the latest CERB report was not supported by the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB), which criticised it for being flawed. The Association’s spokesman said that the report had been funded by individuals and organisations with had commercial interests that corresponded to the reduction.
Previously, the Treasury came up with an analysis of its own, revealing some details about local betting shops. According to the initial estimates, the introduction of a £2 stake would cost the UK economy an amount of £8.5 billion over the next decade in the worst case and £5.5 billion over the same period at best. The representative of the British Bookmakers Association further reminded that the reduction of the fixed-odds betting terminals’ maximum stake to £2 would end up with massive lay-offs in the industry, with approximately 21,000 jobs to be lost, and 4,500 betting outlets to be closed.