Amongst the many issues that the UK government is dealing with right now, the crackdown on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), has been one of the most storied. Just last month, it was decided that these terminals would have their maximum bets capped at £2. This marks quite the drop from their current £100 maximum bet possibility. However, the move towards integrating this decision into the machines has been delayed somewhat.
Members of the Labour party in the UK have now taken it upon themselves to heavily criticise the current government and have labelled it “fundamentally weak”. This comes following reports on Friday, which state that both MPS and bookmakers have chosen to postpone the FOBT crackdown until the year of 2020.
It’s a bit of a knockback for progression, considering it took many years of lobbying by multiple groups who stand against the FOBTs. Today, growing concern over the impact that they’re having on society, thanks to how addictive they can be, has forced the government to finally do something about it. However, it was expected that the change in maximum bets would occur sooner, with many believing it would come into effect early next year.
Alas, it would seem that the UK government has caved in to pressure from the gambling industry, which is why the delay has been brought to pass. British bookies bring in almost half of their yearly gross gambling yield (GGY) from these FOBTs, so it does stand to reason that they would want to stop such changes happening. However, organisations against gambling have already slammed the government for its decision on pushing things back.
The Labour Party’s Voice
The deputy leader of the Labour party, Tom Watson spoke with the media regarding the matter. He said that the decision for a two-year delay on the crackdown of FOBTs represented somewhat of a “pathetic move” from the government which he also claims is “fundamentally weak”. He continued on by saying that MPs have badly let down all of those who had praised the decision to cut the maximum stake on the terminals.
Because of the delay, it has been said that bookmakers will be able to collect another £4 billion in GGY for the proceeding two years. This is based on the average annual income of £1.8 billion, that the terminals usually generate. A second Labour MP, Carolyn Harris, who has been active in lobbying for an FOBT crackdown herself, said that she was “breathing fire” when she heard about the reports.
In response to the reports, a spokesperson for the UK government said that there definitely will be a clampdown on FOBTs, but they would like to do things in the “right way”. This, he said, requires time. And even though things weren’t originally expected to come into effect until next year, certain sources have said that in theory, it should only take between six and eight weeks to make the necessary changes to the machines. In this respect, there seems to be little stopping the government from progressing with the move.