UK Government Reconsiders FOBT Crackdown and Proceeds with Initially-Announced Date in April 2019

Prime Minister Theresa May has been forced to reconsider and withdraw her position over the expected crackdown on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), after a large number of ministerial aides threatened they will follow Tracey Crouch and will resign if the Government does not proceed with the reform’s initially-announced deadline.

The change was revealed in a written statement to Members of Parliament by the Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright, who also announced that an increase in remote gaming duty will also be made so that the change is affordable.

The reduction of the machines’ maximum stake from £100 to £2 aimed at tackling spreading gambling addiction among British residents is to now happen as initially planned, in April 2019. The Government after all decided to move as initially planned and not give six extra months to the gambling businesses after a large number of Tory Members of Parliament (MPs) said they will sabotage the Treasury plans to roll out the changes in October 2019.

As Casino Guardian has already reported, the announcement of the delay made Tracey Crouch surprisingly leave her role as Minister of Sports and Civil Society after being disappointed with the Government’s decision to protect gambling businesses rather than vulnerable people’s lives.

Former Minister Crouch Welcomes the New Decision

According to media reports, Ms. Crouch welcomed the new decision of the Government and shared she was happy with the fact that “common sense” had eventually prevailed.

She was asked whether she would return to Theresa May’s Government but said there was no vacancy, as her position had already been filled.

Fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) were first introduced into local betting outlets in 1999. Since then, their number has increased to a total of 33,468 in the country. According to data records of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), the profit generated by the machines increased by 74% from £1.05 billion in 2009 to £1.83 billion in 2017. The overall profit of high-street betting shops in 2017 amounted to £3.2 billion, combining both traditional bets and FOBT bets.

In addition, the number of people using the betting machines has also grown, with problem gambling rates continuing to increase, too. As Casino Guardian previously wrote, FOBTs have been blamed for the constantly rising problem gambling rates, which was exactly the reason why anti-gambling campaigners insisted on the maximum stake reduction.

The new change in the Government’s plans for the cuts has been taken as a particular embarrassment for Chancellor Philip Hammond, who announced the delay at the time when the budget was revealed. At the time when the Government announced the results of its gambling industry review, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) suggested that the new regime on the machines should be rolled out within nine to twelve months, which basically meant that the deadline for the change should be placed in April 2019 at the latest.

As revealed by Chancellor Hammond at the time, the announced postponement was aimed at providing the gambling operators with enough time to prepare for the changes in order to prevent as much as possible job losses and betting shops closures in the sector.

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Daniel Williams

Daniel Williams

Daniel Williams has started his writing career as a freelance author at a local paper media. After working there for a couple of years and writing on various topics, he found his interest for the gambling industry.
Daniel Williams
Casino Guardian covers the latest news and events in the casino industry. Here you can also find extensive guides for roulette, slots, blackjack, video poker, and all live casino games as well as reviews of the most trusted UK online casinos and their mobile casino apps.

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