Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Fixed-odds betting machines shake-up CONFIRMED - 21000 jobs AT RISK

Fixed-odds betting machines shake-up CONFIRMED - 21000 jobs AT RISK

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has welcomed the Government's decision to cut the maximum stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) from £100 to £2.

Dr Smith said: "Fixed-odds betting terminals are a scourge on high streets that have taken advantage of the vulnerable for too long".

Bookmaker William Hill, which generates just over half its retail revenues from FOBTs, described the United Kingdom government's decision as "unprecedented" and warned that 900 of its shops could become loss-making, potentially leading to job losses.

The industry had previously been hopeful of less drastic action after the Gambling Commission recommended a maximum stake of £30.

Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, added: "When faced with the choice of halfway measures or doing everything we can to protect vulnerable people, we have chosen to take a stand".

The move to cut to maximum stake on FOBTS, announced today by the minister for sport and civil society, Tracey Crouch, comes after a consultation with the public and the industry, which sought to find a balance between a sector that can contribute to the economy and one that is socially responsible.

"We expect over 4,000 shops to close and 21,000 colleagues to lose their jobs".

In 2015, the £1.75bn earned by the bookmakers from FOBTs resulted in £438m in taxes for the Treasury.

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The government said the Gambling Commission would also toughen up protections around online gambling such as stronger age verification rules and proposals that require operators to set limits on gamblers' spending until affordability checks have been conducted.

Each generates an average of £50,000 a year for bookmakers.

William Hill said the changes presented a "tough challenge" and could result in around 900 shops - around 38% of its store estate - becoming loss-making and a "proportion" at risk of being closed, with gaming net revenues expected to fall by 35-45%.

Ministers are understood to have concluded that a £2 stake is needed to protect vulnerable gamblers.

Changes to the stake will need to be brought through leglislation and will need to be approved by parliament.

Chief executive Peter Jackson said the announcement was a "positive development for the long-term sustainability of the industry" and the company highlighted factors that could mitigate the impact.

Changes to the stake will be through secondary legislation and remain subject to parliamentary approval, while the government said it will also engage with the gambling industry to ensure operators are given enough time to implement and complete the technological changes.

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