The reduction in the maximum stakes available at fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) is once again scheduled to take place in April 2019 after the government reversed course on delaying the stake cut until October 2019.
Currently consumers can place wagers at FOBTs (which allow players to bet on games such as slots, roulette, and simulated sports among others) as high as £100 each, but as the result of an initiative to reduce the negative impacts of gambling on society, the government has committed to slashing FOBT stakes to a maximum of £2. The reduction was originally scheduled to take effect in April 2019, but Chancellor Philip Hammond moved to delay the measure by six months until October 2019. Allowing gaming companies to continue to offer the larger wagers was expected to net them some £900 million.
Industry stakeholders claimed they needed the extra time to prepare for the new regulation in an effort to limit job losses as a result of the expected closure of betting shops in the country.
Following the announcement of the delay, sports minister Tracey Crouch tendered her resignation in protest, and information soon surfaced that a report by advisory firm KPMG, that the government used to justify its delay of the stake decreases, was “discredited” and was actually commissioned by the Association of British Bookmakers.
According to journalists at The Guardian that claim to have seen the report, it was created under specific directions set forth by the bookmakers, and as a result, KPMG included the following disclaimer: “The report should not therefore be regarded as suitable to be used or relied on by any other person or for any other purpose.”
In spite of the warning, the government moved to push back the stake cut stating that it was trying to save tens of thousands of jobs in the process, a slanted view of the result of the stake cut that was indicated in the biased report.
However, in the days following the postponement (and as a result of a tremendous amount of outrage around the country and in the government) the original effective date was reinstated by Culture Secretary, Jeremy Wright.
“The government has been clear that protecting vulnerable people is the prime concern, but that as a responsible government it is also right to take the needs of those employed by the gambling industry into account and provide time for an orderly transition,” Wright conveyed in a written statement.
“Parliament has, however, been clear that they want this change to be made sooner. The government has listened and will now implement the reduction in April 2019,” Wright concluded.
While wagers thought FOBTs in retail outlets will have a £2 limit, those looking to place higher wagers on games of chance can do so from their mobile phones or via their laptops or tablets on sites such as Conquer Casino UK and many others.
The United Kingdom allows online gaming throughout the country where people physically within the country can wager on a wide variety of events including sporting contests, poker, slots and casino games.