During the annual meeting of the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB), former culture secretary MP John Whittingdale warned betting shop operators to be alerted. Due to the recent government’s review on gaming machines, they are likely to face significant changes.
Following the announcement by UK’s Gambling Commission stating that fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) could be harmful to players, the UK government is especially focused on controlling their operation. Parliamentary inquiry on gaming activity could lead to limitation by new laws and lower minimum bets established.
In 2015 a regulation on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) was introduced. It established £50 as the maximum stake per spin a player can bet before being controlled by operators. However, last month an assessment was issued proving that the measure is not delivering expected results.
“Given all of that I would have to say I do think there will be proposals for significant change. I can’t say I would be surprised if there are quite radical measures produced when we come to it and I think you should brace yourself” – commented John Whittingdale on the possible change. Despite his predictions, he said he believes that a tighter control on FOBTs will not solve the problems of the industry.
“Does it simply seek to shift the issue of problem gambling or work with the industry to solve it? A stake cut will drive problem gamblers into other forms of gambling – in casinos or amusement arcades, or worse the illegal gambling sector with all the attendant links to money laundering and illegal money lenders” said Whittingdale.
ABB chief executive Malcolm George believes that a cut in stakes would damage the horse and greyhound racing industries. According to his research results, if implemented, by 2020 a £2 stake could result in more than £290 million loss from horseracing.
“The ABB stands ready to engage with all interested parties in government and the broader stakeholders in our industry. The next few months will be critical, not just for betting shops, our shop colleagues and customers, but also for horse and greyhound racing and the whole eco-system that exists around shops. With our members’ support, I believe we can secure the future of betting shops for many years to come,” Malcolm George commented on the issue.