UK Government to Delay FOBT Limit Reduction for Two Years
The UK government has now delayed the implementation of an industry-wide reduction for fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT) betting stakes until April 2020.
According to The Times, industry leaders advised the government to provide a ‘transition period’ for the implementation of the reduction, citing the damage the reduction would do to the UK betting sector’s retail outlets.
A spokesman for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling told The Times: “Unbelievably, the Treasury thinks it takes two years for the bookmakers to run a software update. Somehow ministers have contrived to give the bookies a longer transition period than it will take to negotiate Brexit.”
The implementation was initially expected to take nine to 18 months. Tom Watson MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, accused the government of going back on its word to protect the public by further delaying the cuts, calling the government “pathetic”.
Capitulating to a two-year delay is a pathetic move from a fundamentally weak Government. Those who praised the Government when the announcement was made will feel badly let down. They are already rolling back on their promises and allowing these machines to ruin more lives. – Tom Watson MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
The UK Gambling Commission recommended for the maximum bet reduction in March, which hoped to see the maximum bet on slots to £2 and reduce the roulette FOBT maximum to ‘£30 or below’.
In May, UK Culture Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced that the recommendation was officially accepted by the UK government after a lengthy consultation involving over 4,500 members of the public and 1,800 members of the gambling industry.
At the time, Minister for Sport and Civil Society, Tracey Crouch, said that the £2 maximum stake was selected after “very careful deliberation” as it would be the stake limit that would “most substantially impact on harm by reducing the ability to suffer high session losses”. “Problem gambling can devastate individuals’ lives, families and communities. It is right that we take decisive action now to ensure a responsible gambling industry that protects the most vulnerable in our society. By reducing FOBT stakes to £2 we can help stop extreme losses by those who can least afford it.”
The UK government also revealed that there will be an increase in the Remote Gaming Duty, which is paid by online gaming operators, in an upcoming budget in an effort to ‘cover any impact on public finances and protect funding for vital public services’.
According to The Guardian, the UK has 33,611 FOBTs in place.