Despite the fact that it was only recently that we reported on the north-east of the UK spending around £114 million on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), it seems as though there have been further delays in the UK government placing stricter rules on the them. The highly-controversial betting machines are currently under scrutiny for having maximum wager amounts that are too high. The UK government was expected to have new laws in place to reduce these by the end of April, but this no longer seems likely.
The fact that the local elections in the United Kingdom are taking place at the beginning of May is one issue that is causing this to be postponed, thanks to the fact that there are misunderstandings amongst some governmental members. According to some, Chancellor Philip Hammond – a member of the British Conservative Party – is the one responsible for this delay.
It’s said that Mr Hammond won’t agree to the maximum stake of the FOBTs being reduced to £2. He supposedly has fears that the UK gambling industry could face losing millions of pounds when it comes to gambling tax revenues if this law goes through. With the current maximum bet standing at £100, it admittedly does stand as being remarkably different. These reports regarding the chancellor though, are quite unexpected. After all, it was only in September of last year that he was giving out hints about the government finally imposing some restrictions on the gaming terminals.
He is, of course, not the only one who has stood against such a dramatic reduction. Many gambling operators have protested about the reduction, saying that if it does happen, they’ll be forced to cut jobs and potentially a chunk of their betting shops.
Current Revenue of FOBTs
It’s been quite the journey for those people who are against FOBTs. Many have been campaigning about the risk of them for several years and have been trying to persuade the government to reduce the maximum bet for just as long. Their argument is that these machines are highly addictive and anti-FOBT campaigners also state that they exist as one of the main reasons for the increase in the number of problem gambling situations in the UK. Additionally, last week, a report in The Daily Mail claimed that some Conservative Party members would vote against a maximum stake that stands higher than £5.
On the other hand, these terminals are considered to be one of the biggest revenue sources as far as the gambling industry in the country goes. Around £500 million was added to the Treasury from citizens playing on such in 2017. However, this is in stark contrast to the £1.7 billion in combined losses that the British public suffered on the terminals. This didn’t stop HM Treasury from expressing its concerns over the reduction hurting public finances. It said that the upcoming change could lead to a very sharp decline in funds and/or financial reserves dedicated to organisations that focus themselves on helping problem gamblers.