According to media reports, the expected reduction in the maximum stake of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) will take effect in October 2019 at the earliest.
Yesterday, The Guardian found that the deadlines for British bookmakers to slash the maximum stakes on the notoriously addictive machines from £100 to £2 will be delayed until next year. According to plans regarding next week’s budget, which has included an amount of £900 million expected to be won by local bookmakers, the expected change in the FOBTs regime is most likely to take place in October 2019.
The rumours of the possible delay made Members of Parliament and other campaigners who have sought quicker reaction from the Government to slash the maximum stake of the controversial machines that have been blamed for the constantly rising number of gambling addictions in the country. Campaigners’ fury emerged on Twitter, as they were calling for gambling operators to be given until April 2019 at the latest to make sure they comply with the decision of the UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Jeremy Wright yesterday parroting nonsense bookie rhetoric about “job losses” to justify delaying stake reduction on FOBTs, as if these machines create rather than detroy jobs in communities. Coming from the same govt that would oversee a no-deal Brexit and resulting job losses!
— Matt Zarb-Cousin (@mattzarb) October 25, 2018
It was in May 2018 when the DCMS revealed that the maximum stake allowed on FOBTs will be slashed from £100 to £2 following the claims of both Members of Parliament, campaigners and a number of charity organisations that fixed-odds betting machines were dangerous. At first, the UK Chancellor Philip Hammond was planning the implementation of the new rules in April 2020 due to concerns about the £450-million tax contributions which the country’s Treasury gets from local bookmakers on an annual basis.
Bookmakers to Scoop £2.7 Billion by Changes’ Implementation
Eventually, April 2019 was chosen as a deadline for the new measures to take effect, with any possible shortfall set to be replaced by higher taxes imposed on online gambling operators.
However, according to new information, the Government still decided to make a compromise and provide gambling companies with an extra six months until October 2019 to allow them to collect an overall amount of about £900 million from their customers. Based on the current rate of winnings, a total amount of £2.7 billion is expected to be scooped by the operators since the decision for the new maximum stake was announced.
Derek Webb (Campaign for ‘Fairer’Gambling) said he’d go after online gambling once he’d finished with FOBTs. Looks like the govt is dancing to his tune again. pic.twitter.com/Cl5ykzYs4l
— Christopher Snowdon (@cjsnowdon) October 22, 2018
At the time when the crackdown on fixed-odds betting terminals was announced, bookmakers warned that the new regime for FOBTs will hit them hard, so they needed more times to prepare for the changes in order to limit possible lay-offs. Gambling operators that some of their betting outlets could be closed as a result of the Government’s crackdown on the machines.
Anti-FOBT campaigners’ outrage took over Twitter, despite the industry’s arguments that bookmakers need up to twelve months to prepare for the changes and comply with the new technical requirements for the fixed-odds betting machines. A spokesman for the DCMS explained that the legislative changes will be made “as soon as possible”.